Technology is evolving into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices have more features and take up less space.
So it’s not surprising that hearing aids are no exception. Though hearing problems have a number of causes, hearing difficulties are more common among older individuals, and the world’s population is getting older. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 37.5 million individuals and 3 million Canadians describe having trouble hearing, and since age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number will probably go up.
If you’re dealing with hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Are there any better ways to deal with hearing impairment? Bring ‘em on! Innovations are happening, here are some.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Entire Body
This is so obvious, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” developments. Devices that provide different kinds of health tracking are nearly always worn and need to be worn on the body. So, if you already have a device that’s in your ear… do you really need another one on your wrist? Nope! If you have a newer hearing aid, it can most likely track your pulse, physical activity along with fixing hearing problems like tinnitus. Hearing aids also have the ability to monitor things that other wearables normally don’t, like the time spent conversing. How much social engagement you get can actually be an essential health metric, particularly as you age.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the primary 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 example, to the hearing aids. Android developers now have open-source specifications provided by Google which lets them use specific Bluetooth channels to stream continuous audio directly to your hearing aid. This type of technology is helping hearing aids function almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy movies, music, and more.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Similar to how Netflix suggests shows and movies based on what you’ve watched previously, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a milestone (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how driven your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid might make personalized suggestions. 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 go as far as to crowdsource data about people’s utilization habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. All this information enables the hearing aids to determine 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 instance), 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 sure you’ve got spare batteries on hand, or even taking time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be annoying. While we’re not likely to get hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a constant advancement in rechargeable technology. That means longer time in use, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, overall, not too shabby.