Technology is developing into stronger, smarter, and smaller devices. Being smaller while doing more is the overall trend.
Hearing aids are no exception, and it’s not surprising. The world’s population is aging and hearing problems, though they can have a variety of causes, are more common amongst older people. About 37.5 million adults and 3 million Canadians describe some level of hearing loss according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is going up because age is the strongest demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Of course, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, even one person with trouble hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Are there any better ways to deal with hearing loss? Let’s have them! Innovations are happening, here are a few.
Complete-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This is so obvious, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” developments. Devices that provide different kinds of health tracking are almost always worn and need to be worn close to 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 newest hearing aids, which along with helping correct for hearing difficulties such as tinnitus, will also track 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 types of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend in active conversation or listening. Particularly as you age your level of social engagement can actually be an important health metric.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have smoothly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the primary focus here is connectivity. Some hearing aids that provide Bluetooth capabilities now let users stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for instance, to the hearing aids. Google published open-source standards for Android developers that show them how to use certain channels within Bluetooth to provide uninterrupted audio directly to hearing aids. This type of technology is helping hearing aids work almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy movies, music, and more.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
In a similar way to how Netflix recommends shows and movies according to what you’ve watched previously, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how committed your everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid might make personalized recommendations. 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 information about people’s utilization habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. All this info enables the hearing aids to ascertain your preferences and make adjustments on the fly so that whether you’re watching TV at home or you’re at an IMAX theater (for instance), you’ll get the best possible sound.
Finally Ditching The Batteries
Hearing aids that don’t require their batteries changed? Sound too good to be true? It can be very inconvenient making sure you have spare batteries or that your hearing aids are completely charged. While a hearing aid that doesn’t use any batteries at all may seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology keeps improving. You’ll get quicker charging time, longer use time, and worry less about batteries, which seems pretty good.