Technology is evolving into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. Being smaller while doing more is the overall trend.
Hearing aids are no exception, and it’s not surprising. Though hearing issues have many different causes, hearing difficulties are more common among older people, and the world’s population is aging. According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe having trouble hearing, and because age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number is likely to increase.
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing impairment? Let’s have them! Here are some of the advancements that are happening.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Entire Body
This is so intuitive, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” developments. Devices that provide different types of health tracking are nearly always worn and have to be worn close to the body. So, if you’ve already got a device that’s in your ear… do you really need a separate one on your wrist? The answer is no. Or at least, you don’t with some of the newest hearing aids, which along with helping correct for hearing difficulties like tinnitus, will also track your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Sure, a wearable such as an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can offer you other kinds of input that can be helpful to monitoring health, like how much time you spend in active conversation or listening. Particularly as you get older, your level of social involvement can actually be a key health metric.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the principal emphasis here is connectivity. Some hearing aids that offer Bluetooth capabilities now allow users to 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 directly to hearing aids. This type of technology is helping hearing aids work almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy movies, music, and more.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
Your next hearing aid might make personalized recommendations similar to how a Fitbit alerts you to fitness objectives or how Netflix suggests your next movie based on your viewing trend. Several manufacturers are working on hearing aids that will learn both from the adjustments you make and from listening to the places you go. Some push it even further, crowdsourcing information on how individuals use their hearing aids anonymizing and then mixing the data. All this info enables the hearing aids to ascertain your tendencies and make adjustments on the fly so that whether you’re watching TV at home or you’re at an IMAX theater (for example), you’ll get the best possible sound.
Finally Ditching The Batteries
Hearing aids that don’t need their batteries changed? Sound too good to be true? After all, making certain you’ve got spare batteries with you, or even taking time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be a pain in the, um, ear. While we’re not likely to get hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a consistent improvement in rechargeable technology. That means longer time in use, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, overall, not too shabby.