You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all better get accustomed to. When it comes to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone is the time 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 complex computer algorithm that utilizes data inputs to generate new results. AI is capable of using an algorithm to participate in a kind of learning called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every specific result because the algorithm does that on its own.
Depending on the degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make changes depending on your behaviors and your requirements. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can AI help hearing aids work better?
This may feel a little abstract at first. After all, hearing aids seem to have a rather straightforward function. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, you know that row of big dials and buttons that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve most likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid contains one of those! (It’s tiny.) Altering these settings can deliver better sound quality. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing how you hear without any hassle on your part.
These smart devices use a deep neural network to imitate human brain responses. As a result of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to conditions without being programmed to do so.
This might sound like space-age science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming according to your viewing history. Newer cars utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your email provider uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you use these devices, the more efficient they become at making proper decisions.
New advances in AI hearing aids
These days, hearing aids are integrating several brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the most relevant examples include the following:
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own distinctive acoustic characteristics. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. You will hear better in nearly any environment with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was wearing masks, which was good, but certainly made talking with a hearing aid more challenging. You can remain safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. Basically, you can activate something called edge mode whenever you’re having a tough time hearing. When this is initiated AI will begin working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has lots of echoes, or is extremely loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. Cross talk, for instance, can often be hard 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 environment.
This is probably only the start of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the field of audiology
These days, AI has sort of become something of a buzzword. Everyone’s heard it, which is good, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more useful for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are working on. This research includes new technologies, including deep neural networks and machine learning. But it isn’t just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will probably do in the future.
Patients will find AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, unlike other industries. Some significant advantages to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Among those benefits are the following:
- Social engagement: Studies have found that those who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful in terms of managing their social engagement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which likely accounts for better social interaction. Having said that, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life healthy. It most likely just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from lots of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a range of other devices. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you actually want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be able to detect the significance and severity of your tumble. If there is a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, alert the Authorities. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually means hearing better more frequently.
How does this affect patients?
For individuals with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently result in real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. This isn’t practical because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while dulling undesired noise.
AI learns to identify sounds and creates a location-by-location program. If you go back to a specific location or sound profile, AI can initiate these algorithms. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with day-to-day sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Here are some other practical benefits to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- Your quality of life will get better.
- The cognitive burden will be decreased.
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t available in the majority of hearing aids until recently. An algorithm is, in fact, a complex math equation. But prices are coming down, partially due to the prevalence of the technology.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still may end up wanting a model that doesn’t include AI functionality. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI features are becoming more readily obtainable and prevalent.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be overkill for someone who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. But AI makes a huge difference for individuals who are socially active and go out into loud situations a lot.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less tired with AI hearing aids. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. Hearing aids will continue to improve as AI technology improves.
How can AI technology help you? Give us a call to make an appointment!