Technology is developing into stronger, smarter, and smaller devices. Taking up less space while having more functionality is the overall trend.
This is also true for hearing aids, and it’s not a surprise. Though hearing issues have a number of causes, hearing difficulties are more common amongst older individuals, and the world’s population is getting older. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe having trouble hearing, and since age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number will probably increase.
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Are there any better ways to deal with hearing impairment? Bring ‘em on! Advancements are happening, here are some.
Whole-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This is so obvious, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” innovations. Devices that offer different kinds of health tracking are almost always worn and need to be worn on the body. So, if you already have a device that’s in your ear… do you actually need another one on your wrist? Nope! Or at least, you don’t with some of the newest hearing aids, which along with helping fix hearing difficulties such as tinnitus, will also track your pulse, your physical activity, and a whole lot more. Hearing aids also have the ability to track things that other wearables usually don’t, like the time spent conversing. Especially as you age your level of social involvement can actually be a key health metric.
Connectivity is the major watchword, as virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa have moved from smartphones to in-home devices seamlessly. Some hearing aids that provide Bluetooth capabilities now let users stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for example, to the hearing aids. Google released open-source specifications for Android developers that show them how to use certain channels within Bluetooth to provide uninterrupted audio straight to hearing aids. This type of technology is helping hearing aids work almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy music, movies, and more.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Similar 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 goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how driven your daily 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 people use their hearing aids anonymizing and then aggregating the data. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be capable of using this information to identify what your situation is and make adjustments to give you the best audio experience.
Finally Ditching The Batteries
We know, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? It can be really inconvenient making sure you have spare batteries or that your hearing aids are completely charged. While we’re not likely to see hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a constant improvement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get faster charging time, extended use time, and worry less about batteries, which seems pretty good.