When somebody talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it might arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get accustomed to. This is especially true when it comes to hearing aids. The days when hearing aids simply increased the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone forever. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a sophisticated computer algorithm that uses data inputs to produce new results. AI is able to use an algorithm to participate in a kind of learning called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every specific result because the algorithm does that on its own.
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 degree of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear as a result.
How can you hear better with AI?
At first, this could seem a little abstract. After all, hearing aids appear to have a fairly basic function. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, you know that row of big dials and buttons that people use to mix music in recording studios? (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better quality of sound can be obtained by modifying these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without requiring you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a rich neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time conditions because of this.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to suggest movies according to your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like futuristic technology initially. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email provider uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you utilize these devices, the more efficient they become at making correct decisions.
New advancements in AI hearing aids
These days, hearing aids are integrating several brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were certainly tougher during the pandemic when everyone 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 individual room you walk into. Some of those qualities are good for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. You will hear better in nearly any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone settings. Cross talk, for instance, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But even in a noisy environment, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Essentially, you can activate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a tough time hearing. When this is initiated AI will start working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
This is most likely only the start of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the discipline of audiology
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Depending on the context, AI does different things, which can in some cases cause confusion. So with regard to the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
Making hearing aids even more useful for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are working on. This research includes new technologies, including deep neural networks and machine learning. But it’s not just hearing aids. In the future, AI might be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
As the technology grows and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
Unlike some other industries, AI is not being integrated into hearing aids simply because it’s the hot new thing. Some considerable benefits to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Here are some of those benefits:
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this normally means a better overall hearing experience.
- Social engagement: In terms of dealing with social interaction, individuals who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some studies. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which likely accounts for better social engagement. With that being said, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life healthy. It most likely just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from a wide variety of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a range of other devices. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be able to detect the significance and seriousness of your tumble. In some cases, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones in the event of a severe fall. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
How does this impact patients?
For people who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often translate into real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and respond the way your brain would, lowering background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will generate a location-by-location program to address the various kinds of sounds it picks up. These algorithms help when you go back to a specific location or sound profile. In order to better identify and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with day-to-day sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- The cognitive burden will be reduced.
- Your quality of life will get better.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids until recently. An algorithm is, after all, a complex math equation. However, in part because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are starting to go down.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want might have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less expensive in the near future. Clearly, patients will still need to make important decisions. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more widely available.
Finding out what choice is best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the additional cost. But AI makes a big difference for individuals who are socially active and go out into loud situations a lot.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. Social situations are simpler and the user will feel less exhausted with AI hearing aids. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and 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.