You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than just fiction. With regard to hearing aids, this is particularly true. The times when hearing aids simply amplified the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a sophisticated computer algorithm that utilizes data inputs to generate new results. AI is able to use an algorithm to engage in a type of learning known as “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every individual result because the algorithm does that by itself.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal needs based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear as a result.
How can you hear better with AI?
Initially, this may seem a bit abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can adding AI to the situation improve things? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with switches and dials. (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better audio quality can be obtained by modifying these settings. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, improving how you hear without any hassle by you.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to re-create human brain responses. Because of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to situations without being programmed to deal with them.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to recommend movies according to your viewing history, though it probably sounds like futuristic technology at first. Newer cars utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. These devices become more adept at making correct choices the more you use them.
New advances in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Here are some of the best examples:
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. In essence, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. This then initiates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio properties come with each individual room you walk into. Some of those qualities are good for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. You will hear better in nearly any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has lots of echoes, or is overly loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for instance. But even in a loud environment, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the individual across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were undoubtedly tougher during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. You can stay safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
Hearing aid makers and scientists are constantly developing new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the tip of the iceberg.
AI for the field of audiology
These days, AI has kind of become a bit of a buzzword. Everyone’s heard it, which is good, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So with regard to the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
First off, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more useful to patients. New technologies, including machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. In the future, AI might be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
Patients will find AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
In contrast to some other industries, AI is not being incorporated into hearing aids just because it’s the hot new thing. Some considerable advantages to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Here are some of those benefits:
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you really want to hear.
- Social engagement: Studies have revealed that people who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to dealing with their social engagement. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of environments. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It probably just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can determine the seriousness of your fall. In the event of a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, notify the Authorities. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health data easier to understand.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn off those algorithms. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this usually means hearing better more frequently.
How does this affect patients?
For people with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently result in real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. This isn’t useful because the conversation you actually care about will get overpowered by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while dulling unwanted noise.
AI will generate a location-by-location program to address the various types of sounds it picks up. If you return to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate these programs. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with day-to-day sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- Your brain will experience a lower cognitive burden.
- You will have improved quality of life.
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Reward vs. cost
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t offered in the majority of hearing aids until recently. After all, the device itself must perform some intense calculations (an algorithm, after all, is essentially a very elegant math problem). However, partially because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are starting to go down.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still might end up wanting a model that doesn’t have AI functionality. Obviously, patients will still have to make important choices. But AI features are becoming more readily obtainable and common.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be too much for somebody who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. But AI makes a huge difference for individuals who are socially involved and go out into noisy situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also helpful for someone who is quickly worn out in social situations where the task of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. Social situations are simpler and the user will feel less tired with AI hearing aids. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. As technology and AI develop, hearing aids will continue to too.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can help you? Contact us to make an appointment!