You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all better get used to. This is especially true with regard to hearing aids. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely raise the volume of sounds around you. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that uses data inputs to produce new results. In this way, AI algorithms engage in a kind of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every individual result because the algorithm does that on its own.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal requirements depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How does AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
This might seem a bit abstract at first. After all, hearing aids appear to have a pretty basic function. How can adding AI to the mix enhance things? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard full of switches and dials. (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Altering these settings can provide better quality sound. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, improving the way you hear without any work on your part.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a rich neural network. As a result of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to situations without being programmed to deal with them.
This might sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming according to your viewing history. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier utilizes it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. These devices become more expert at making appropriate decisions the more you use them.
New improvements in AI hearing aids
Presently, hearing aids are incorporating multiple brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Here are some of the best examples:
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own distinctive acoustic characteristics. Some of those qualities are good for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. You will hear better in almost any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Basically, you can activate something called edge mode whenever you’re having a difficult time hearing. When this is activated AI will begin working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was wearing masks, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more challenging. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping those with hearing aids hear better and stay safe simultaneously.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a setting that has a lot of echoes, or is overly loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. A hearing aid can have a difficult time with cross-talk, for instance. But even in a loud setting, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
This is probably only the start of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has sort of become something of a buzzword. Everyone’s heard it, which is good, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So when it comes to the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are working on. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. 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 see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
In contrast to some other industries, AI is not being integrated into hearing aids just because it’s the popular new fad. These machine learning algorithms offer some considerable benefits to patients. Among those advantages are the following:
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from lots of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a myriad of other devices. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you actually want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this normally means hearing better more frequently.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be capable of detecting the significance and severity of your tumble. In the event of a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, notify the Authorities. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health information easier to understand.
- Social engagement: Studies have revealed that individuals who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to managing their social engagement. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of environments. That said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life healthy. It most likely just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
What this means for patients
For people with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently lead to real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. This isn’t helpful because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while lowering undesired noise.
AI will generate a location-by-location program to deal with the various kinds of sounds it picks up. These algorithms help when you go back to a specific location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
- You will have improved quality of life.
- The cognitive load will be decreased.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to follow along with your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI was not offered in the vast majority of hearing aids owing to the costs involved. After all, the device itself must perform some extreme calculations (an algorithm, of course, is basically a very elegant math problem). However, partially because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are beginning to go down.
That isn’t saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still may wind up choosing a model that doesn’t include AI functionality. Clearly, patients will still need to make important choices. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more readily available.
Figuring out what choice is best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the added cost. To someone who is socially involved and finds themselves in situations with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. AI-powered hearing aids decrease the listener’s fatigue and make social situations more enjoyable. When the doorbell rings, or when you have a fall AI technology can alert you or a loved one and it can even track your steps. As technology and AI improve, hearing aids will continue to as well.
Want to find out how AI hearing aids can help you? Give us a call to set up an appointment!