You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all better get used to. When it comes to hearing aids, this is especially true. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely increase the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a sophisticated computer algorithm that uses data inputs to generate new results. In this way, AI algorithms take part in a kind of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every individual result because the algorithm does that on its own.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal requirements depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear as a result.
How can AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
This may seem a bit abstract at first. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can adding AI to the situation improve things? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with buttons and knobs. (You’ve most likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid includes one of those! (It’s tiny.) Better sound quality can be attained by altering these settings. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing how you hear without any hassle by you.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to re-create human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time situations because of this.
This may sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same fundamental 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. These devices become more proficient at making correct decisions the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new advances
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Some of the most relevant examples include the following:
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Essentially, you can initiate something called edge mode whenever you’re having a difficult time hearing. This then initiates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own unique acoustic properties. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it doesn’t do so well with. You will hear better in almost any setting with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a variety of loud or echo-prone settings. Cross talk, for instance, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But with an AI filtering out non-imperative information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy setting.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was wearing masks, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping those with hearing aids hear better and stay safe at the same time.
This is probably only the beginning of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the field of audiology
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Everyone’s heard it, which is good, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more helpful for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are tackling. New technologies, like machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of this research. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will likely do in the future.
As the technology develops and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, unlike other industries. Some significant benefits to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Here are some of those benefits:
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this normally means a better all-around hearing experience.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can determine the seriousness of your fall. In some cases, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a major fall. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health information easier to understand.
- Social engagement: When it comes to managing social interaction, people who use AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some research. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which most likely accounts for better social engagement. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It probably just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
How does this impact patients?
For individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently translate into real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. If you had an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. This isn’t useful because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI learns to recognize sounds and creates a location-by-location algorithm. If you go back to a specific location or sound profile, AI can activate these algorithms. In order to better identify and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with day-to-day sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- The cognitive burden will be reduced.
- You will feel less aggravated because you will be able to hear better.
- 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 because of the costs involved. An algorithm is, after all, an intricate math equation. However, partially because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are starting to go down.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still may wind up wanting a model that doesn’t have AI capabilities. Obviously, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more widely available.
Figuring out what choice is best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the added cost. But AI makes a big difference for individuals who are socially involved and go out into noisy situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also helpful for someone who is quickly worn out in social scenarios where the chore of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. AI-powered hearing aids reduce the listener’s fatigue and make social situations more enjoyable. 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. As technology and AI improve, hearing aids will continue to too.
How can AI technology help you? Make an appointment with us right away.