Hearing aids have certainly come a long way from their humble origins. Long gone are the days of having to wear a bulky, heavy, and unattractive microphone just for a better quality of life. Rather, these days, people with hearing loss have a wide range of options available to them to help them hear and experience their environment to the fullest.
While hearing aid technology has progressed significantly since the ‘ear trumpet’ of Beethoven’s day, many companies see current technology as just a stepping stone for future development. For these innovators, the small devices we have today are just the start for what’s to come.
Each year, thousands of hearing healthcare professionals and companies attend the annual EUHA Congress – a gathering of hearing aid acousticians from around the world. With lectures, workshops, and a trade show featuring hundreds of exhibitors, the annual Congress is the best place to check out the newest happenings in the hearing aid technology world.
In 2018, digitization was the name of the game at the Congress as companies look to further enhance hearing aid capabilities with the help of technologies like artificial intelligence, sensor technology, and machine learning. Here’s are some of the takeaway points from the newest hearing aid technologies on the block:
New hearing aids are taking full advantage of the developing artificial intelligence technologies to improve the quality of sound for hearing aid users. A new hearing aid, called the Mood Li-Ion G5 from Audio Service, adjusts to every single hearing situation using intelligent algorithms which allow for a variety of benefits, such as better transmission of the wearer’s own voice so that it sounds familiar and natural.
The device also focuses in on what a person wants to hear in a given situation so that one can cut out the background noise and pay attention to what’s important. Plus, it connects wirelessly to smartphones, TVs, and other devices so that one can listen to them distortion-free. Finally, as is the trend these days, these devices can connect to a smartphone app, which can be used to control individual features of the hearing aid for superior individualized functionality.
The Livio AI from Starkey is being hailed as the first hearing aid with both integrated sensor technology and artificial intelligence. This new, technologically advanced hearing aid is designed to track brain and body health, do simultaneous language translation, and adapt its sensors to best meet the needs of the wearer’s environment.
Plus, it is one of the best hearing aids available in terms of sound quality and adaptability with accessories. Ultimately, companies like Starkey hope that AI and sensor technology can help people with hearing loss live life to the fullest and avoid the stigma that is so frequently associated with using hearing aids. Instead of feeling ostracized by their hearing aids, Starkey hopes that AI technology can empower people and help them appreciate all that the devices can do.
The Danish company Widex recently introduced a new hearing aid with advanced machine learning capabilities. The Widex EVOKE uses the concept of machine learning – wherein a device’s algorithm is programmed to learn from past data and patterns – to provide wearers with a unique and customized experience.
By connecting the EVOKE to a smartphone app, hearing aid users can help program their devices with their preferred hearing preferences. This allows the device to make on-the-go adjustments to sound quality that would normally have required a visit to a hearing healthcare professional. While this is not meant to eliminate the need for a professional hearing healthcare consultation, the data that the EVOKE collects and analyzes can be used to further improve future user experiences.
Ultimately, AI, sensor technology, and machine learning are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the future of hearing aid development. Moving forward, these innovative companies can use the data and feedback collected from these smart devices to continue to improve the overall hearing aid experience to create a better world for people with hearing loss.