You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all better get accustomed to. With regard to hearing aids, this is especially true. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that simply increase the volume of sounds around you. Contemporary, high-end hearing aids use AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to generate new results. AI is capable of using an algorithm to participate in a type of learning known as “machine learning”. When the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each individual result.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make adjustments depending on your routines and your requirements. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can AI help hearing aids work better?
This may seem a little abstract at first. After all, hearing aids appear to have a fairly basic function. How can adding AI to the mix improve things? Well, you know that row of big dials and switches that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve probably seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Altering these settings can deliver better sound quality. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, improving the way you hear without any effort on your part.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a deep neural network. As a result of this, these hearing aids respond 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 found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more adept at making correct decisions the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own unique acoustic characteristics. Some of those qualities are good for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. You will hear better in almost any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- 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 activates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a variety of loud or echo-prone locations. Cross talk, for instance, can often be hard on a hearing aid. But with an AI filtering out non-imperative information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy environment.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was wearing masks, which was good, but certainly made conversations with a hearing aid more challenging. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and stay safe simultaneously.
Hearing aid makers and scientists are continuously innovating 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 something of a buzzword. Depending on the context, AI does different things, which can occasionally result in confusion. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
First, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more beneficial to patients. This research includes new technologies, such as deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will most likely do in the future.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, unlike other industries. These machine learning algorithms offer some considerable benefits to patients. Here are a few of those benefits:
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn off those algorithms. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this normally means a better all-around hearing experience.
- Social engagement: In terms of dealing with social interaction, individuals who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some research. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which probably accounts for better social engagement. With that being said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life healthy. It most likely just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can detect the severity of your fall. In the event of a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, notify the Authorities. AI can also make your health data easier to interpret, helping you know when you should be moving more, eating better, or just hydrating more.
What this means for patients
These benefits often translate into real-world advantages for individuals with these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. 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 capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while dulling undesired noise.
AI will create a location-by-location algorithm to deal with the various kinds of sounds it detects. These algorithms help when you return to a particular location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- Your brain will have a decreased cognitive burden.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- Your quality of life will get better.
In other words, it’ll be simpler 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 recently. After all, the device itself must do some intense calculations (an algorithm, after all, is essentially a very elegant math problem). However, partially because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are beginning to go down.
That isn’t saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still may wind up choosing a model that doesn’t have AI capabilities. Obviously, patients will still need to make important choices. But AI functions are becoming more widely obtainable and common.
Figuring out what choice is 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. But AI makes a huge difference for individuals who are socially involved and go out into loud situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also helpful for somebody who is rapidly worn out in social scenarios where the chore of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less exhausted with AI hearing aids. 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? Schedule an appointment with us right away.