Woman wearing hearing aids climbing hill with family and laughing at a joke.

When was the last time you utilized that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t have one? Because that technology is hundreds of years old. Okay, I suppose that seems logical. Ear trumpets are a bit… archaic.

The basic shape of the modern hearing aid was designed in the 1950s. And that old style hearing aid is generally the one we remember and think of. The problem is that a hearing aid made in the 1950s is just about as antiquated as an ear trumpet. We need to really advance our thinking if we want to get an accurate picture of how how much more advanced modern hearing aids are.

Hearing Aids, Then And Now

To be able to better understand just how advanced hearing aids have become, it’s helpful to have some perspective about where they began. As far back as the 1500s, it’s possible to find some type of hearing aid (though, there’s no evidence that these wooden, ear-shaped artifacts were actually effective).

The “ear trumpet” was probably the first partially useful hearing assistance apparatus. This construct was shaped like, well, a long trumpet. The wide end pointed out and the narrow end was directed into your ear. At present, you wouldn’t consider this device high tech, but back then they actually give some help.

When electricity was introduced, hearing aids went through a significant revolution. In the 1950s the hearing aid as we know it was developed. In order to work properly, they made use of large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a rather basic design. But these gadgets signify the start of a hearing aid that could be easily worn and hidden. Admittedly, modern hearing aids may share the same form and function as those early 1950s models–but their functionality goes far beyond what was conceivable 7 decades ago.

Modern Capabilities of Hearing Aids

Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it bluntly. And they continue making improvements. In a number of profound ways, modern hearing aids have been making use of the digital technology of the later twentieth century. The first, and the most crucial way, is simple: power. Earlier versions had batteries that had less power in a larger space than their modern counterparts.

And a number of sophisticated developments come with increased power:

  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss commonly manifests as loss of specific frequencies and wavelengths of sound. Maybe you have a more difficult time hearing high-frequency sounds (or vice versa). Contemporary hearing aids are a lot more efficient because they are able to amplify only the frequencies you have a difficult time hearing.
  • Speech recognition: For countless hearing aid users, the supreme goal of these devices is to assist in communication. Some hearing aids, then, have built-in speech recognition software designed to separate and boost voices primarily–which can be quite useful in a wide range of scenarios, from a packed restaurant to an echo-y meeting room.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids are usually made of advanced materials, so they feel more comfortable. While these new materials enable hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also enables them to be more robust. And by adding long-lasting, rechargeable batteries, it’s easy to see how not just the inside–but the outside–of hearing aids have advanced over the years.
  • Health monitoring: Modern hearing aids are also able to incorporate sophisticated health monitoring software into their options. if you fall, for example, some hearing aids can detect that. There are other features that can inform you about your fitness goals like how many steps that you’ve taken.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Modern hearing aids can now communicate with all of your Bluetooth devices. This can be very useful on a daily basis. Old style hearing aids, for instance, would have annoying feedback when you would attempt to talk on the phone. With contemporary hearing aids, you can just connect to your cellphone via Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. You will also use Bluetooth connectivity to participate in a wide variety of other electronic activities. Because there’s no interference or feedback, it’s easier to lwatch TV, listen to music–you name it.

Just like rotary phones no longer represent long-distance communication, older hearing aids no longer capture what these devices are. Hearing aids aren’t what they once were. And that’s a good thing–because now they’re even better.

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