Features of modern hearing aids

Today's hearing aids are sleek, packed with the latest features, and work well in many different environments. They also incorporate emerging technologies that improve hearing and provide enhanced comfort,flexibility, and connectivity.

By: Dr. Pickett of Greentree Hearing & Audiology

Features of modern hearing aids

Features of modern hearing aids

Hearing aid technology has made considerable improvements since the early 1990s. Back then, oversized devices and poor fit were considered standard.

However, when digital signal processing arrived in the late '90s, hearing technology has improved immeasurably since. Today's hearing aids are sleek, packed with the latest features, and work well in many different environments. They also incorporate emerging technologies that improve hearing and provide enhanced comfort,flexibility, and connectivity.

Here's a closer look at the latest hearing aid technology.

Direct Bluetooth technology

Whether listening to our favorite podcasts or communicating on FaceTime with grandchildren —wireless audio technology is already integrated into our everyday lives.

Nowadays, many of the latest hearing aids use Bluetooth technology to wirelessly transmit sound directly to your hearing aid from your favorite devices — no intermediate streamer required.

You can pair your Bluetooth hearing aids with nearly any Bluetooth-enabled device, smartphones,TVs, or laptops.

Rechargeable Lithium-ion technology

The most recent hearing aids use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. These have the power to last for over 24 hours on just one charge.

 

These kinds of rechargeable batteries offer essential advantages:

●      More convenient. Now that you don't need to buy batteries, you'll have one less errand each week.

●      Better for the planet. You'll throwaway much fewer batteries, which means fewer will be sent to the landfill.  

●      Peace of mind. Longer and more consistent running times means you don't need to worry about losing charge during critical events.

 

Remote programming

A few months ago, no one could have foretold the magnitude of COVID-19 's effect on our healthcare services. This is why a lot of hearing practices are now providing remote programming services.

Remote hearing aid programming has been a feature of many modern hearing aids for some time, but it is only since the pandemic that hearing aid users are beginning to take advantage. Hearing professionals can now directly access and modify your hearing aid settings without entering the office.

By programming your hearing aids while you are sitting at home, the hearing professional can adapt to your everyday environment, taking into account the room's acoustics in which you are located. These subtle cues help them choose the most accurate settings.

Remote programming is also useful for those who have restricted mobility or live in a remote area.

 

Directional microphones

Most microphones are omnidirectional, meaning they collect sound equally from all directions. Thought his can be an issue when using hearing aids, hearing background noise while you're trying to focus on your friend's anecdote is not ideal.

Directional microphones are more sensitive to identifying sounds in specific directions and enable wearers of hearing aids to concentrate on other sounds they want to hear.

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

You may think of science fiction scenarios where robots take over the world when you think of AI technology, but that's far from the truth. As far as AI in hearing technology is concerned, it can improve hearing aids by enabling them to learn about your listening habits and your favorite settings.

It uses high-speed,complex processing to deliver high-quality, balanced sound and the best of natural hearing, ensuring you understand all the nuances of the noise around you.

Hearing aids that use machine learning and AI are already on the market. Such devices (most notably the Widex EVOKE, ReSound LiNX Quattro, and Starkey Livio AI hearing aids) can learn the preferences of the user, and then adjust device settings based on the algorithms used in the system. The hearing aid figures out what works best for you and then adjusts the hearing aid features to give you the best listening experience in any particular setting.

Users of hearing aids with AI ability report an improvement in hearing in difficult situations when listening.

With this technology,the hearing aids will get more intelligent the more you use them. With the Widex Evoke, the data obtained from your hearing aid, together with information from thousands of other users, will also improve the sound settings for future generations.

 

'Wearable' technology

Once you think of wearable technology, you might think of smartwatches or fitness and health trackers. And now there are hearing aids that are beginning to blur the line.

One such device is the Starkey Livio AI, which bridges the gap between fitness and hearing aids. The Livio AI can measure specific health indicators, including steps, walking, and ascending stairs. It can also monitor signs of cognitive functions, such as how often the user is communicating with other people.

If that wasn't enough, it also performs near-instant 27-language translation and will measure heartbeat in future iterations.

What does the future hold for hearing aids? The sky's the limit. We know that whatever hearing aids will look like shortly, changes will be made to allow those with hearing loss to better communicate with the people around them.

But you don't have to wait for then to enjoy great features in your hearing aids. With hearing technology, the future of tomorrow is today.

Doctor of Audiology
Sherry Pickett, Doctor of Audiology
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