You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get accustomed to. With regard to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that simply increase the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to generate new results. In doing this, AI algorithms engage in a type of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. When the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each separate result.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal needs based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How does AI help hearing aids work better?
This may seem a bit abstract initially. After all, hearing aids seem to have a rather basic function. How can adding AI to the mix enhance things? Well, you know that row of big knobs and buttons that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid contains one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Better quality of sound can be obtained by modifying these settings. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, improving the way you hear without any work on your part.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a deep neural network. As a result of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to conditions without being programmed to do so.
This may sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to recommend programming according to your viewing history. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you make use of these devices, the more reliable they become at making correct decisions.
New advancements in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were definitely more difficult 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.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Basically, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. When this is initiated AI will begin working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- 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 difficult time with cross-talk, for instance. But even in a noisy setting, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the individual across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio properties come with each specific room you walk into. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic adjustments that allow you to hear better in almost any setting.
Hearing aid manufacturers and scientists are constantly innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the tip of the iceberg.
AI for the discipline of audiology
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Everybody’s heard it, which is okay, 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.
Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are working on. New technologies, such as machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of this research. But it isn’t just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will likely do in the future.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
Unlike some other industries, AI is not being incorporated into hearing aids simply because it’s the hot new thing. Some significant benefits to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Here are a few of those benefits:
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from a wide variety 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.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be able to detect the significance and severity of your tumble. In some cases, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a severe fall. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to understand.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually means a better overall hearing experience.
- Social engagement: When it comes to dealing with social interaction, people who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some studies. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which most likely accounts for better social engagement. With that being said, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life healthy. It most likely just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
How does this affect patients?
For individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often translate into real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while lowering undesired noise.
AI learns to identify sounds and creates a location-by-location algorithm. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can activate these programs. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with day-to-day sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- Your brain will have a lower cognitive burden.
- You will have improved quality of life.
In other words, it’ll be easier to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite friends, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI was not available in the vast majority of hearing aids owing to the costs involved. An algorithm is, in fact, an intricate math equation. However, in part because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices 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. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more readily available.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be overkill for someone who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. But AI makes a big difference for individuals who are socially active and go out into loud situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also practical for somebody who is rapidly worn out in social scenarios where the task of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less fatigued with AI hearing aids. 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. Hearing aids will continue to improve as AI technology improves.
How can AI technology help you? Make an appointment with us right away.