When someone 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 used to. This is especially true when it comes to hearing aids. The days when hearing aids merely increased the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a type of technology that makes use of complex algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. AI is able to use an algorithm to take part in a type of learning called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every specific result because the algorithm does that by itself.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal requirements based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How can AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
At first, this may seem a little abstract. After all, hearing aids appear to have a rather basic function. How can adding AI to the situation enhance things? Well, you know that row of big dials and switches that people use to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid includes one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Better sound quality can be attained by adjusting these settings. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing the way 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 react in real-time to conditions without being programmed to deal with them.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services recommend movies based on your viewing history, though it probably sounds like futuristic technology at first. 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 best examples include the following:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was wearing masks, which was good, but definitely made conversations with a hearing aid more challenging. You can remain safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own unique acoustic characteristics. Some of those properties are good for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. You will hear better in just about 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. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for instance. But even in a noisy setting, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Basically, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. This then triggers the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
This is probably only the beginning of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the discipline of audiology
These days, AI has sort of become something of a buzzword. Everyone’s heard it, which is good, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are tackling. This research includes new technologies, such as deep neural networks and machine learning. 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 probably do in the future.
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 is not being incorporated into hearing aids just because it’s the hot new fad. These machine learning algorithms provide some considerable advantages to patients. Here are some of those benefits:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be able to detect the significance and severity of your tumble. If there is a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, alert the Authorities. AI can also make your health data easier to interpret, helping you identify when you should be moving more, eating healthier, or just drinking more water.
- 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 often translates into hearing better more frequently.
- Social engagement: Studies have found that those who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful when it comes to managing their social involvement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which likely accounts for better social interaction. With that being said, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life healthy. Likely, it simply helps those who are already social better maintain their relationships.
- 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. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you will hear is the sound you really want to hear.
How does this impact patients?
For individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often 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 boost the volume up. This isn’t practical 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 unwanted noise.
AI learns to recognize sounds and creates a location-by-location program. If you return to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate these programs. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your brain will have a decreased cognitive burden.
- You will have improved quality of life.
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
In other words, it’ll be easier to follow along with your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Reward vs. cost
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t offered in most hearing aids until recent times. An algorithm is, after all, a complex math equation. However, partially because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids 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. Obviously, patients will still have to make important choices. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more widely available.
Figuring out what option is best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be overkill for someone who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. To someone who is socially involved and finds themselves in conditions with many competing sounds, however, it makes a huge difference.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. AI-powered hearing aids decrease the listener’s exhaustion and make social situations more enjoyable. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. As technology and AI develop, hearing aids will continue to too.
How can AI technology help you? Contact us to make an appointment!
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