You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But nowadays, AI is more science than fiction. This is especially true with regard to hearing aids. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that simply raise the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a form of technology that utilizes complex algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. In this way, AI algorithms take part in a type of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every specific result because the algorithm does that by itself.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal needs depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
This might feel a bit abstract initially. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, you know that row of big dials and switches that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Changing these settings can provide better sound quality. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without requiring you to do anything.
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 deal with them.
This may sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming according to your viewing history. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you make use of these devices, the more efficient they become at making proper decisions.
New advances in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Some of the most relevant examples include the following:
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has lots of echoes, or is excessively loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. Cross talk, for instance, can often be hard on a hearing aid. But even in a loud environment, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the person across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. Essentially, you can initiate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a difficult time hearing. When this is initiated AI will begin working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own unique acoustic properties. Some of those qualities are helpful for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. You will hear better in almost any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were undoubtedly more difficult during the pandemic when everyone was wearing a facemask. You can stay safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
This is most likely only the start of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the discipline of audiology
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Everybody’s heard it, which is okay, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So in terms of the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
First off, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more beneficial to patients. New technologies, including machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of this research. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. In the future, AI might be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
As the technology grows and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids simply because it’s the hot new thing. These machine learning algorithms provide some considerable advantages to patients. Among those advantages are the following:
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids 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 translates into hearing better more frequently.
- 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 some situations, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones in the event of a severe fall. AI can also make your health information easier to interpret, helping you know when you should be exercising more, eating better, or just drinking more water.
- Social engagement: With regard to dealing with social interaction, people who use AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some studies. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which most likely accounts for better social engagement. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Likely, it simply helps those who are already social better preserve their relationships.
What this means for patients
For people with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently lead to real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just boost the volume up. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while lowering unwanted noise.
AI will create a location-by-location program to address the various types of sounds it detects. These programs 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 identify and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- Your brain will experience a reduced cognitive burden.
- 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
There was a time when AI was not offered in the vast majority of hearing aids owing to the costs involved. After all, the device itself has to do some extreme calculations (an algorithm, after all, is basically a very elegant math problem). But prices are decreasing, partially due to the prevalence of the technology.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still might end up choosing a model that doesn’t include AI functionality. Clearly, patients will still have to make important choices. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more readily available.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be overkill for somebody who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. But AI makes a huge difference for individuals who are socially active and go out into loud situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also practical for someone who is quickly 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. 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. As technology and AI improve, hearing aids will continue to too.
How can AI technology help you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.