When somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it might conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But nowadays, AI is more science than just fiction. This is particularly true with regard to hearing aids. The times when hearing aids merely increased the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. Modern, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that uses data inputs to produce new results. In this way, AI algorithms engage in a kind of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every individual result because the algorithm does that by itself.
Depending on the amount of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make changes depending on your routines and your requirements. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How does AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
This may seem a little abstract initially. After all, hearing aids seem to have a pretty straightforward function. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard full of switches and dials. (You’ve most likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s tiny.) Adjusting these settings can provide better quality sound. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, improving how you hear without any work on your part.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to imitate human brain responses. Because of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to situations 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 based on your viewing history. Newer cars utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you use these devices, the more efficient they become at making correct decisions.
New advancements in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Here are some of the best examples:
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. Essentially, you can initiate something called edge mode whenever you’re having a hard time hearing. This then initiates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has a lot of echoes, or is overly loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for instance. But even in a noisy setting, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was masking up, which was good, but definitely made conversations with a hearing aid more challenging. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping those with hearing aids hear better and remain safe simultaneously.
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio qualities come with each individual room you walk into. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. You will hear better in nearly any setting with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
Hearing aid producers and scientists are constantly innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the beginning.
AI for the field of audiology
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Everybody’s heard it, which is good, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more useful for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are working on. New technologies, like machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of this research. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will probably do in the future.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
In contrast to some other industries, AI isn’t being integrated into hearing aids just because it’s the hot new fad. These machine learning algorithms offer some significant benefits to patients. Among those advantages are the following:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be capable of detecting the significance and severity of your tumble. If there is a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, notify the Authorities. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
- Social engagement: Studies have revealed that individuals who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful in terms of dealing with their social involvement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide spectrum of settings, which most likely accounts for better social engagement. That said, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life afloat. It probably just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from a wide variety 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 want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually means a better overall hearing experience.
What this means for 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 make everything louder. This isn’t useful because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, lowering background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI learns to identify sounds and creates a location-by-location algorithm. If you return to a specific location or sound profile, AI can activate these algorithms. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with day-to-day sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- Your quality of life will improve.
- Your brain will have a reduced cognitive load.
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 recent times. After all, the device itself must do some extreme calculations (an algorithm, after all, is basically a very elegant math problem). But prices are coming down, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
That isn’t saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still might end up wanting a model that doesn’t have AI capabilities. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI functions are becoming more widely available and common.
Figuring out what choice is best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the extra cost. To someone who is socially involved and finds themselves in situations with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. AI-powered hearing aids decrease the listener’s fatigue and make social situations more enjoyable. When the doorbell rings, or when you have a fall AI technology can alert you or a loved one and it can even track your steps. As technology and AI develop, hearing aids will continue to as well.
How can AI technology help you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.