You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than fiction. With regard to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just raise the volume of sounds around you. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids use AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a sophisticated computer algorithm that uses data inputs to produce new results. AI is capable of using an algorithm to participate in a type of learning called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every individual result because the algorithm does that on its own.
Depending on the degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make modifications depending on your behaviors and your needs. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
Initially, this may seem a bit abstract. After all, hearing aids seem to have a rather basic function. How can adding AI to the mix improve things? 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 move these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing how you hear without any hassle on your part.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a rich neural network. Because of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to conditions without being programmed to deal with them.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to suggest movies based on your viewing history, though it probably sounds like futuristic technology initially. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more proficient at making appropriate choices the more you use them.
New improvements in AI hearing aids
These days, hearing aids are incorporating several brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. In essence, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. This then initiates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio properties come with each individual room you go into. Some of those properties are helpful 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.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were certainly harder during the pandemic when everyone was wearing a facemask. You can remain safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has lots of echoes, or is overly loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. Cross talk, for example, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But even in a loud environment, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the individual across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
This is likely only the beginning of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the field 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 contexts. So with regard to the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
First off, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more helpful to patients. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But it isn’t just hearing aids. In the future, AI may be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
Patients will find AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being integrated into hearing aids simply because it’s the hot new thing. These machine learning algorithms offer some considerable advantages to patients. Among those advantages are the following:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be capable of detecting the significance and severity of your tumble. In some cases, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones in the event of a severe fall. AI can also make your health data easier to understand, helping you know when you should be moving more, eating healthier, or just drinking more water.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. 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: Studies have shown that those who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful in terms of managing their social involvement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which probably accounts for better social engagement. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It probably just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you really want to hear.
What this means for patients
For individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently result in real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. If you had an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. This isn’t helpful because the conversation you actually care about will get overpowered by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while lowering undesired noise.
AI learns to identify sounds and generates a location-by-location program. These algorithms help when you go back to a specific 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.
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- Your brain will have a reduced cognitive burden.
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 was not available in most hearing aids due to the costs involved. After all, the device itself must perform some intense calculations (an algorithm, after all, is essentially a very fancy math problem). However, partially because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are starting to go down.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still may end up choosing a model that doesn’t include AI functionality. Clearly, patients will still need to make important choices. But AI functions are becoming more readily available and common.
Deciding what’s best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the additional cost. But AI makes a big difference for individuals who are socially involved and go out into loud situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also practical for someone who is quickly worn out in social situations where the chore of keeping up with conversations using a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. Social situations are simpler 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. Hearing aids will keep improving as AI technology improves.
How can AI technology help you? Make an appointment with us right away.