When someone talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it might arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get used to. This is particularly true with regard to hearing aids. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely increase the volume of sounds around you. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids use AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that utilizes data inputs to produce new results. AI is able to use an algorithm to take part in a type of learning known as “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every individual result because the algorithm does that by itself.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal needs based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
At first, this may seem a little abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can adding AI to the mix improve things? Well, you know that row of big dials and buttons that people use to mix music in recording studios? (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better audio quality can be attained by adjusting these settings. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing how you hear without any effort by you.
These smart devices use a deep neural network to re-create human brain responses. As a result of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to conditions without being programmed to do so.
This may sound like space-age science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to recommend programming according to your viewing history. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier utilizes it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you use these devices, the more reliable they become at making proper decisions.
New advances in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has a lot of echoes, or is extremely loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for example. But even in a noisy environment, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the individual across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but definitely made conversations with a hearing aid more challenging. You can stay safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own distinct acoustic properties. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. You will hear better in just about any setting with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. Essentially, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. When this is triggered AI will begin working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
Hearing aid makers and scientists are continuously innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the beginning.
AI for the field of audiology
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can sometimes lead to confusion. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more helpful for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are working on. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will likely do in the future.
As the technology develops and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, in contrast to other industries. These machine learning algorithms offer some considerable advantages to patients. Among those benefits are the following:
- Social engagement: Studies have found that those who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful when it comes to dealing with their social involvement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide spectrum of settings, which likely accounts for better social interaction. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It most likely just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on 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 often translates into hearing better more often.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be able to detect the significance and seriousness of your tumble. In some situations, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones in the event of a severe fall. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health information easier to interpret.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you will hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
What this means for patients
For individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently lead to real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while dulling undesired noise.
AI will create a location-by-location algorithm to address the various types of sounds it picks up. These algorithms help when you go back to a particular location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- The cognitive burden will be reduced.
- You will have improved quality of life.
In other words, it’ll be easier to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t available in the majority of hearing aids until recently. An algorithm is, after all, a complex math equation. But prices are decreasing, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want might have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less costly in the near future. Clearly, patients will still have to make important decisions. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more readily available.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be overkill for someone who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. 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 somebody who is rapidly worn out in social situations where the task of keeping up with conversations using a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. AI-powered hearing aids decrease the listener’s fatigue and make social situations more enjoyable. 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.
Want to find out how AI hearing aids can work for you? Make an appointment with us right away.