When somebody talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it might conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all better get accustomed to. This is particularly true when it comes to hearing aids. The days when hearing aids simply boosted the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone forever. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a type of technology that utilizes sophisticated algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. AI is capable of using an algorithm to participate in a type of learning called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every individual result because the algorithm does that by itself.
Depending on the degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make adjustments depending on your routines and your requirements. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear because of this.
How does AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
This may feel a bit abstract initially. After all, hearing aids seem to have a pretty basic function. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with switches and knobs. (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s tiny.) Better sound quality can be achieved by adjusting these settings. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, improving the way you hear without any work by you.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to imitate human brain responses. Because of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to conditions without being programmed to do so.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services recommend movies according to your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like space-aged technology initially. AI is also encountered in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more expert at making appropriate choices the more you use them.
New improvements in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio qualities come with each specific room you walk into. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. You will hear better in almost any setting with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone locations. Cross talk, for example, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But with an AI filtering out non-essential information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy environment.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were certainly harder during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. You can remain safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. Basically, you can initiate something called 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.
Hearing aid producers and scientists are continuously developing new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the tip of the iceberg.
AI for the discipline of audiology
These days, AI has kind of become a bit of a buzzword. Everybody’s heard it, which is good, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So when it comes to the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
First off, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more useful to patients. New technologies, such as machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of this research. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will likely 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 advantages
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, in contrast to other industries. These machine learning algorithms offer some considerable benefits to patients. Here are some of those benefits:
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices 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 usually means a better overall hearing experience.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you actually want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- Social engagement: In terms of 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 array of settings, which probably accounts for better social interaction. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Likely, it simply helps people who are already social better preserve their relationships.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be able to detect the significance and severity of your tumble. In some cases, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones in the event of a severe fall. AI can also make your health information easier to interpret, helping you know when you should be exercising more, eating healthier, or just drinking more water.
What this means for patients
These benefits frequently result in real-world advantages for those with these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. This isn’t useful because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI learns to identify sounds and creates a location-by-location algorithm. These algorithms help when you return to a specific location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- Your quality of life will get better.
- Your brain will have a decreased cognitive burden.
In other words, it’ll be easier to follow along with your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite friends, and take care of your favorite brain.
Reward vs. cost
There was a time when AI wasn’t offered in the vast majority of hearing aids due to the costs involved. An algorithm is, after all, a complex math equation. But prices are decreasing, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will automatically be less expensive in the near future. Obviously, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI functions are becoming more widely available and common.
Deciding what’s best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the additional cost. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in situations with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a huge difference.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less tired 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. As technology and AI develop, hearing aids will continue to as well.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can help you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.