You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than just fiction. With regard to hearing aids, this is especially true. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that simply raise the volume of sounds around you. Modern, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a type of technology that makes use of complex algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. In this way, AI algorithms take part in a type of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every specific result because the algorithm does that on its own.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal needs based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
At first, this could seem a bit abstract. After all, hearing aids appear to have a pretty straightforward function. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard full of switches and knobs. (You’ve probably seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better quality of sound can be achieved by modifying these settings. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, improving the way you hear without any effort by you.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to emulate human brain responses. As a result of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to conditions without being programmed to do so.
This might sound like space-age science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming according to your viewing history. AI is also encountered in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you use these devices, the more reliable they become at making correct decisions.
New advancements in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Some of the most relevant instances include the following:
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. In essence, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. This then initiates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has lots of echoes, or is extremely loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for instance. But with an AI filtering out non-essential information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy setting.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own distinct acoustic characteristics. Some of those qualities are helpful for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. You will hear better in just about any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was wearing masks, which was good, but certainly made conversations with a hearing aid more difficult. You can stay safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
Hearing aid manufacturers and scientists are constantly developing new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the beginning.
AI for the discipline of audiology
These days, AI has kind of become something of a buzzword. Depending on the context, AI does different things, which can in some cases result in confusion. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more helpful for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are tackling. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But it’s not just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will probably do in the future.
As the technology expands and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
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 a few of those benefits:
- 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. 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: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can determine the severity of your fall. In the event of a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, notify the Authorities. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health data easier to understand.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this usually means a better all-around hearing experience.
- Social engagement: When it comes to managing social interaction, individuals who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some studies. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which probably accounts for better social engagement. That said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life afloat. It most likely just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
What this means for patients
These benefits frequently result in real-world advantages for people with these AI-assisted hearing aids. 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 impossible to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while lowering unwanted noise.
AI learns to recognize sounds and generates a location-by-location algorithm. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can activate these programs. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with day-to-day sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Here are some other practical benefits to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- Your brain will have a reduced cognitive burden.
- Your quality of life will get better.
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Reward vs. cost
There was a time when AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids due to the costs involved. After all, the device itself must perform some intense calculations (an algorithm, of course, is essentially a very fancy math problem). However, partially 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 automatically be less costly in the near future. Obviously, patients will still have to make important decisions. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common 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 added cost. But AI makes a huge 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 exhausted easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less fatigued 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 find out how AI hearing aids can work for you? Make an appointment with us right away.