It seems as if all our devices are getting smarter, stronger, and smaller. Being smaller while doing more is the general trend.
Hearing aids are no exception, and it’s not surprising. The world’s population is aging and hearing issues, though they can have a number of causes, are more common among older individuals. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe having trouble hearing, and because age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number is likely to go up.
If you’re dealing with hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Better ways to reduce hearing loss? Let’s have them! Here are some of the innovations that are in the works.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Entire Body
This one seems like it should be obvious. Health and fitness trackers have to be worn on the body. So, if you’ve already got a device that’s in your ear… do you actually need a separate one on your wrist? The answer is no. Or at least, you don’t with some of the latest hearing aids, which in addition to helping correct for hearing difficulties such as tinnitus, will also keep track of your pulse, your physical activity, and a whole lot more. Sure, a wearable such as an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can provide you with other kinds of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend having conversations or listening. How much social involvement you get can actually be an important health metric, especially as you age.
Connectivity is the major watchword, as virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa have moved from smartphones to in-home devices without missing a beat. Audio from a device, such as a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth compatible. Android developers now have open-source specs supplied by Google which allows them to use certain Bluetooth channels to stream continuous audio straight to your hearing aid. This technology is making things like movies and music more satisfying by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Similar to how Netflix suggests shows and movies based on what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how driven your everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid may make personalized suggestions. Several manufacturers are working on hearing aids that will learn both from the adjustments you make and from listening to the places you go. Some go as far as to crowdsource data about people’s utilization habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be able to use this information to recognize what your situation is and make adjustments to provide you with the most enjoyable audio experience.
Getting Rid of The Batteries For Good
Ya, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? It can be really inconvenient making sure you have extra batteries or that your hearing aids are fully charged. While a hearing aid that doesn’t use any batteries at all might seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology keeps improving. You’ll get quicker charging time, longer use time, and less worry about batteries, which seems pretty good.