When someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it may arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get used to. With regard to hearing aids, this is particularly true. The days when hearing aids merely boosted the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to produce new results. In this way, AI algorithms engage in a kind of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. Once the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each separate result.
Depending on the degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make adjustments depending on your routines and your requirements. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear as a result.
How can you hear better with AI?
This may seem a bit abstract at first. After all, hearing aids appear to have a rather basic function. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, you know that row of big knobs and switches that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s tiny.) Changing these settings can provide better quality sound. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, improving how you hear without any effort on your part.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a deep neural network. As a result of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to situations without being programmed to do so.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to recommend movies according to your viewing history, though it probably sounds like futuristic technology at first. Newer cars utilize 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 efficient they become at making correct decisions.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
Presently, hearing aids are integrating multiple brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has lots of echoes, or is extremely loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. A hearing aid can have a difficult time with cross-talk, for instance. But with an AI filtering out non-imperative information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy environment.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own distinctive acoustic properties. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it doesn’t do so well with. You will hear better in just about any environment with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were definitely more difficult during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. You can remain safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. Basically, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. This then activates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
Hearing aid makers and scientists are continuously developing new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the tip of the iceberg.
How is AI employed in the field of audiology?
These days, AI has kind of become something of a buzzword. Everybody’s heard it, which is good, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
First off, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more useful to patients. New technologies, such as machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But it’s not just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will most likely do in the future.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids just because it’s the hot new thing. Some significant advantages to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Here are some of those benefits:
- Social engagement: Studies have found that people who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful in terms of dealing with their social engagement. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of environments. With that being said, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life healthy. Most likely, it simply helps people who are already social better manage their relationships.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can detect the seriousness of your fall. In some cases, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones in the event of a major fall. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health information easier to understand.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you actually want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually translates into hearing better more frequently.
What this means for patients
These benefits frequently become real-world advantages for people who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will generate a location-by-location algorithm to address the various kinds of sounds it picks up. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate these programs. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with day-to-day sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your quality of life will improve.
- Your brain will experience a lower cognitive load.
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
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
There was a time when AI wasn’t offered in most hearing aids owing to the costs involved. After all, the device itself must perform some extreme calculations (an algorithm, of course, is basically a very fancy math problem). However, in part because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are starting to go down.
That isn’t saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still might wind up wanting a model that doesn’t have AI capabilities. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI features are becoming more readily obtainable and prevalent.
Finding out what choice is best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be too much for someone who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. But AI makes a big difference for people who are socially involved and go out into loud situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also useful for someone who is rapidly worn out in social situations where the chore of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. AI-powered hearing aids reduce 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 improve, hearing aids will continue to as well.
Want to find out how AI hearing aids can work for you? Make an appointment with us right away.