Technology is evolving into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. Being smaller while having more functionality is the overall trend.
So it’s not surprising that hearing aids are no exception. The world’s population is aging and hearing problems, though they can have many different causes, are more common amongst older individuals. According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly 37.5 million individuals and 3 million Canadians report having trouble hearing, and because age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number is likely to go up.
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Better ways to alleviate hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Innovations are happening, here are a few.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Entire Body
This is so intuitive, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” innovations. Health and fitness trackers need to be worn on the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? The answer is no. If you have a newer hearing aid, it can most likely track your pulse, physical activity along with correcting hearing issues such as tinnitus. Hearing aids also have the ability to track things that other wearables normally don’t, like the time spent conversing. Particularly as you age your level of social engagement can actually be a key health metric.
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the primary emphasis here is connectivity. Some hearing aids that have Bluetooth capabilities now let users stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for instance, to the hearing aids. Google published open-source specifications for Android developers that show them how to use specific channels within Bluetooth to provide uninterrupted audio directly to hearing aids. This kind of technology is helping hearing aids work almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy movies, music, and more.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
Similar to how Netflix recommends shows and movies based on what you’ve watched previously, or your Fitbit buzzes to let you know you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how ambitious your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid may make personalized recommendations. Several manufacturers are working on hearing aids that will learn both from the adjustments you make and from listening to the places you go. Some take it one step further, crowdsourcing information on how people use their hearing aids anonymizing and then aggregating the data. All this information allows the hearing aids to figure out your tendencies and make adjustments on the fly so that whether you’re at home watching TV or you’re in an IMAX theater (for example), you’ll get the best possible sound.
Eliminating The Batteries Once And For All
Hearing aids that don’t need their batteries changed? Sound too good to be true? After all, making certain you’ve got spare batteries with you, or even taking time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be annoying. While we’re not likely to get hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a constant advancement in rechargeable technology. That means longer in-use time, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, overall, not too bad.