You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all better get accustomed to. With regard to hearing aids, this is especially true. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that simply increase the volume of sounds around you. Modern, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that utilizes data inputs to produce new results. In doing this, AI algorithms take part in a type of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. When the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each individual result.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal requirements based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear because of this.
How does AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
Initially, this may seem a little abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. 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.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Adjusting these settings can deliver better quality sound. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, improving how you hear without any effort by you.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a deep neural network. Because of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to conditions without being programmed to do so.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to suggest movies based on your viewing history, though it most likely 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 utilize these devices, the more reliable they become at making correct decisions.
AI hearing aids – new advances
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Essentially, you can activate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a hard time hearing. This then activates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were certainly tougher during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping those with hearing aids hear better and remain safe simultaneously.
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio properties come with each specific room you go into. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it doesn’t do so well with. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effectively make automatic corrections that allow you to hear better in just about any setting.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a setting that has lots of echoes, or is extremely loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. Cross talk, for example, can often be hard on a hearing aid. But even in a loud setting, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
Hearing aid manufacturers and scientists are continuously developing new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the tip of the iceberg.
AI for the field of audiology
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Everybody’s heard it, which is good, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are working on. New technologies, such as machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. In the future, AI might be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids just because it’s the popular new thing. Some significant advantages to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Among those benefits are the following:
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from lots of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a range of other devices. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- Social engagement: Studies have shown that people who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful when it comes to managing their social involvement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide spectrum of settings, which probably accounts for better social engagement. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. 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 tumble, your AI-assisted device can detect the seriousness of your fall. In some cases, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a severe fall. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health information easier to understand.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this often translates into hearing better more frequently.
How does this affect patients?
For individuals with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often become real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while dulling unwanted noise.
AI learns to recognize sounds and generates a location-by-location algorithm. These algorithms help when you go back to a particular location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You will have improved quality of life.
- Your brain will experience a lower cognitive load.
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI wasn’t offered in most hearing aids due to the costs involved. An algorithm is, in fact, a complex math equation. But prices are coming down, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want might have AI, or even that those hearing aids will automatically be less expensive in the near future. Obviously, patients will still have to make important decisions. But AI functions are becoming more readily obtainable and common.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be too much for somebody who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. But AI makes a big difference for individuals who are socially active and go out into loud situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also useful for somebody who is rapidly worn out in social situations where the chore of keeping up with conversations using a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less exhausted with AI hearing aids. 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. Hearing aids will keep improving as AI technology improves.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can work for you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.