Technology is developing into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. Being smaller while doing more is the general trend.
So it’s not surprising that hearing aids are no different. The world’s population is getting older and hearing issues, though they can have many different causes, are more common among older individuals. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 37.5 million individuals and 3 million Canadians report having difficulty hearing, and since age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number is likely to go up.
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Are there any better ways to deal with hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Here are some of the advancements that are in the works.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Whole 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? Nope! If you have the latest hearing aid, it probably can track your pulse, physical activity along with improving hearing issues like tinnitus. Certainly, a wearable such as an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can provide you with other types of input that can be helpful to monitoring health, like how much time you spend in active conversation or listening. How much social involvement you get can actually be an essential health metric, especially as you age.
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the main focus here is connectivity. Audio from a device, such as a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth capable. Google published open-source specifications for Android developers that show them how to use certain channels within Bluetooth to produce uninterrupted audio directly to hearing aids. This kind 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
In a similar way to how Netflix suggests shows and movies based on what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit buzzes to let you know you’ve reached a milestone (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how ambitious your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid might make personalized suggestions. The places you go and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being manufactured by a few companies, to learn your habits. Some go as far as to crowdsource information about people’s usage habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be able to use this information to recognize what your situation is and make adjustments to provide you with the best audio experience.
Finally Losing The Batteries
Hearing aids that don’t require their batteries changed? Sound too good to be true? It can be very inconvenient making certain you have spare batteries or that your hearing aids are completely charged. While we’re not likely to get hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a continuous advancement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get quicker charging time, extended use time, and worry less about batteries, which seems pretty good.