Technology is developing into stronger, smarter, and smaller devices. Taking up less space while doing more is the overall trend.
So it’s not surprising that hearing aids are no different. The world’s population is getting older and hearing problems, though they can have a number of causes, are more common amongst older individuals. Around 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe some level of hearing loss according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is rising since age is the strongest demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Are there any better ways to deal with hearing impairment? Let’s have them! Here are some of the advancements that are happening.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Whole Body
This one seems as if it should be obvious. Devices that provide different types of health tracking are nearly always worn and have to be worn on the body. So, if you’ve already got a device that’s in your ear… do you really need another one on your wrist? The answer is no. Or at least, you don’t with some of the latest hearing aids, which in addition to helping fix hearing difficulties such as tinnitus, will also track your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Hearing aids can also track things that other wearables normally don’t, like the time spent conversing. How much social involvement you get can actually be an important health metric, especially as you age.
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have smoothly 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 standards for Android developers that show them how to use certain channels within Bluetooth to provide uninterrupted audio straight to hearing aids. This technology is making things like movies and music more enjoyable by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
In a similar way to how Netflix recommends shows and movies based on what you’ve watched previously, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that 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. The places you visit and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being developed by several brands, to learn your habits. Some take it one step further, crowdsourcing data on how individuals use their hearing aids anonymizing and then aggregating the data. All this info enables the hearing aids to determine your preferences and make adjustments on the fly so that if you’re watching TV at home or you’re at an IMAX theater (for example), you’ll get the best sound.
Finally Losing The Batteries
Hearing aids that don’t require their batteries changed? Sound too good to be true? It can be very inconvenient making sure you have extra batteries or that your hearing aids are completely charged. While we’re not likely to see hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a continuous improvement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get faster charging time, extended use time, and less worry about batteries, which seems pretty good.