It seems as if all our devices are getting stronger, smarter, and smaller. Taking up less space while having more functionality is the overall trend.
So it’s no surprise that hearing aids are no different. Though hearing problems have many different causes, hearing difficulties are more common among older individuals, and the world’s population is aging. According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly 37.5 million individuals and 3 million Canadians describe having trouble hearing, and because age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number will probably go up.
If you’re dealing with hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Better ways to reduce hearing loss? Let’s have them! Innovations are happening, here are a few.
Whole-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This is so intuitive, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” innovations. Devices that provide different types of health tracking are nearly always worn and have to be worn on the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? Nope! If you have the latest hearing aid, it probably can keep track of your pulse, physical activity along with improving hearing issues like tinnitus. Sure, a wearable like an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can give you other kinds of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend in active conversation or listening. How much social engagement you get can actually be an essential health metric, particularly as you get older.
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the principal emphasis here is connectivity. Some hearing aids that provide Bluetooth capabilities now let users stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for instance, to the hearing aids. Android developers now have open-source specifications supplied by Google which allows them to use specific Bluetooth channels to stream uninterrupted audio directly to your hearing aid. This type of technology is helping hearing aids function almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy movies, music, and more.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
Your next hearing aid may make personalized recommendations similar to how a Fitbit alerts you to fitness objectives or how Netflix recommends your next movie based on your viewing trend. The places you go and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being manufactured by several brands, to learn your behaviors. Some go as far as to crowdsource data about people’s usage habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. All this information 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 example), you’ll get the best sound.
Finally Losing The Batteries
Hearing aids that don’t require their batteries replaced? Sound too good to be true? After all, making sure you’ve got spare batteries on hand, or even taking time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be a pain in the, um, ear. While we’re not likely to see hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a constant advancement in rechargeable technology. That means longer time in use, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, overall, not too shabby.