Woman wearing hearing aids climbing hill with family and laughing at a joke.

When was the last time you utilized that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t use one? Because that technology is centuries old. Okay, I suppose that seems logical. Ear trumpets are a bit… archaic.

The modern(ish) hearing aid, as it happens, was introduced during the 1950s–the basic design, that is. And that old model hearing aid tends to be the one we generally remember and think of. But thinking of a hearing aid like this isn’t accurate because those old hearing aids are out-dated technology. We need to really expand our thinking if we want to get an accurate picture of how how much better modern hearing aids are.

The History of Hearing Aids

In order to better understand just how sophisticated hearing aids have become, it’s helpful to have some context about where they started. If we follow the history back far enough, you can most likely find some type of hearing assistance device as far back as the 1500s (though, there’s no evidence that these wooden, ear-shaped items actually worked).

The first moderately successful hearing assistance device was most likely the ear trumpet. This device looked like an elongated trumpet. You would put the small end into your ear so that the wide end pointed out. These, er, devices weren’t exactly high tech, but they did offer some measurable assistance.

The real revolution came when someone invited electricity to the party. The hearing aid as we now know it was really developed in the 1950s. They were rather basic, using transistors and large, antiquated batteries to effectively work. But a hearing aid that could be easily worn and hidden began with these devices. Admittedly, modern hearing aids may share the same shape and function as those early 1950s designs–but their performance goes far beyond what was possible 70 years ago.

Modern Features of Hearing Aids

Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it plainly. And they keep making improvements. Since the later years of the twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been using digital technologies in a number of significant ways. The first, and the most crucial way, is simple: power. Earlier models had batteries that had less power in a bigger space than their modern counterparts.

And a number of cutting-edge developments come with greater power:

  • Speech recognition: For lots of hearing aid users, the biggest goal of these devices is to enable communication. Some hearing aids, then, have built-in speech recognition software developed to isolate and amplify voices primarily–from a crowded restaurant to an echo-y meeting hall, this feature comes in handy in many scenarios.
  • Health monitoring: Sophisticated Health monitoring software is also included in modern hearing aid choices. if you have a fall, for example, some hearing aids can recognize that. Other functions can count your steps or give you exercise encouragement.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids are normally made of high tech materials, so they feel more comfortable. These new materials enable hearing aids to be lighter and more robust simultaneously. It’s easy to see how hearing aids have improved on the outside as well as the inside by adding long lasting and rechargeable batteries.
  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss usually manifests as loss of certain wavelengths and frequencies of sound. Maybe low frequency sound is hard to hear (or vice versa). Contemporary hearing aids can be programmed to boost only those sounds that you are unable to hear so well, resulting in a much more efficient hearing aid.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Modern hearing aids can now connect to all of your Bluetooth devices. You will use this function on a daily basis. Old style hearing aids, for instance, would have aggravating feedback when you would attempt to talk on the telephone. With modern hearing aids, you can simply connect to your cellphone via Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. You will also utilize Bluetooth functions to take part in a wide range of other electronic activities. This means simple, feedback free connection to your TV, music, etc.

Just like rotary phones no longer exemplify long-distance communication, older hearing aids no longer represent what these devices are. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And that’s a positive thing–because now they’re even better.

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