It seems as if all our devices are getting smarter, stronger, and smaller. Being smaller while doing more is the general trend.
So it’s no surprise that hearing aids are no different. The world’s population is getting older and hearing issues, though they can have a variety of causes, are more common among older individuals. Around 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe some amount of hearing impairment according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is increasing because age is the best demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Naturally, if you’re dealing with hearing loss, even one person with trouble hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Better ways to alleviate hearing loss? Let’s have them! Here are some of the innovations that are happening.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Whole Body
This one seems like it should be obvious. Health and fitness trackers have to be worn on the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? Nope! If you have a newer hearing aid, it can most likely keep track of your pulse, physical activity along with fixing hearing problems like tinnitus. Hearing aids can also track things that other wearables normally don’t, like the time spent conversing. How much social involvement you get can actually be a vital health metric, particularly as you get older.
Connectivity is the primary watchword, as virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa have moved from smartphones to in-home devices without missing a beat. Some hearing aids that offer Bluetooth capabilities now let users stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for instance, to the hearing aids. Android developers now have open-source specs provided by Google which lets them use specific Bluetooth channels to stream continuous audio straight to your hearing aid. This type of technology is helping hearing aids function almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy music, movies, and more.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
In a similar way to how Netflix recommends shows and movies according to what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a milestone (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how committed your everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid could 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 take it one step further, crowdsourcing data on how individuals use their hearing aids anonymizing and then mixing the data. All this info enables the hearing aids to determine your preferences and make adjustments on the fly so that whether you’re at home watching TV or you’re at an IMAX theater (for example), you’ll get the best sound.
Eliminating The Batteries Once And For All
We know, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t require batteries? It can be really inconvenient making sure you have spare batteries or that your hearing aids are fully charged. While a hearing aid that doesn’t take any batteries at all might seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology continues to improve. That means longer in-use time, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, overall, not too shabby.