It seems like all our devices are getting stronger, smarter, and more compact. In general, the trend is that devices have more features and take up less space.
Hearing aids are no exception, and it’s not surprising. Though hearing problems have many different causes, hearing difficulties are more common among older people, and the world’s population is getting older. About 37.5 million adults and 3 million Canadians describe some amount of hearing loss according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is rising because age is the strongest demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Of course, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, even one person with difficulty hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Innovations are happening, here are a few.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Entire Body
This one seems as if it should be obvious. Devices that provide different types of health tracking are almost always worn and need to be worn on the body. So, if you’ve already got a device that’s in your ear… do you actually need a separate one on your wrist? The answer is no. If you have the latest hearing aid, it can most likely track your pulse, physical activity along with fixing hearing problems like tinnitus. Hearing aids also have the ability to track things that other wearables usually don’t, like the time spent conversing. Particularly as you age your level of social involvement can actually be an important health metric.
Connectivity is the important watchword, as virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa have moved from smartphones to in-home devices seamlessly. Some hearing aids that have Bluetooth capabilities now allow users to 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 specific channels within Bluetooth to provide uninterrupted audio directly to hearing aids. This type of technology is helping hearing aids function almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy movies, music, and more.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
In a similar way to how Netflix recommends shows and movies based on what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit buzzes to let you know you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how driven your everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid might 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 aggregating the data. All this info enables the hearing aids to ascertain your tendencies and make adjustments on the fly so that whether you’re at home watching TV or you’re in an IMAX theater (for instance), you’ll get the best possible sound.
Finally Losing The Batteries
We know, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? It can be very 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 advancement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get faster charging time, longer use time, and less worry about batteries, which seems pretty good.