When was the last time you used that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t use one? Because that technology is centuries old. Okay, I suppose that seems logical. Ear trumpets are a bit… archaic.
The fundamental shape of the modern hearing aid was developed in the 1950s. And that old style hearing aid tends to be the one we generally remember and picture. But thinking of a hearing aid in this way isn’t realistic because those old hearing aids are out-dated technology. To understand just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unshackle our imaginations.
The History of Hearing Aids
So that you can better recognize just how sophisticated hearing aids have become, it’s helpful to have some perspective about where they started. If we follow the history back far enough, you can likely find some type of hearing assistance device as far back as the 1500s (whether any of them ever really helped you hear better is probably unlikely).
The first partially effective hearing assistance apparatus was probably the ear trumpet. This device was shaped like, well, a long horn. The wide end pointed out and the small end was directed into your ear. These, um, devices were not exactly high tech, but they did provide some measurable help.
The real revolution came once electricity was invited to the party. The hearing aid that we are familiar with was really created in the 1950s. In order to perform their function, they relied on large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a fairly basic design. But these gadgets signify the beginning of a hearing aid that could be easily worn and concealed. The hearing aids of the 1950s may have appeared similar to modern hearing aids but the technology and functionality is worlds apart.
Hearing Aid’s Modern Features
Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it bluntly. And they’re constantly improving. Since the late twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been benefiting from digital technologies in a number of profound ways. Power is the first and most crucial way. Modern hearing aids can pack substantially more power into a much smaller space than their earlier predecessors.
And a long list of sophisticated advances come with increased power:
- Speech recognition: For lots of hearing aid users, the biggest goal of these devices is to assist in communication. Some hearing aids, then, have built-in speech recognition software designed to isolate and amplify voices mainly–which can be pretty handy in a wide variety of situations, from a packed restaurant to an echo-y meeting room.
- Bluetooth connectivity: Contemporary hearing aids are now able to communicate with all of your Bluetooth devices. You will utilize this function every day. For example, hearing aids used to have a hard time dealing with phone calls because users would hear substantial (and sometimes unpleasant) feedback. With modern hearing aids, you can just connect to your cellphone via Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. You will also utilize Bluetooth functions to take part in a wide range of other electronic activities. This means simple, feedback free connection to your TV, music, etc.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss usually manifests as loss of certain wavelengths and frequencies of sound. Perhaps you have a harder time hearing high-frequency noises (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids are much more efficient because they are able to amplify only the frequencies you have a difficult time hearing.
- Construction: Modern hearing aids feel more comfortable because they are made of high tech materials. These new materials enable hearing aids to be lighter and more robust at the same time. And with the addition of 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: Advanced Health tracking software is also included in modern hearing aid choices. if you fall, for example, some hearing aids can recognize that. Other features can count your steps or give you exercise support.
The old style hearing aids no longer represent what hearing aids are, just as rotary phones no longer capture what long distance communication looks like. Hearing aids aren’t what they once were. And that’s a positive thing–because now they’re even better.