Technology is evolving into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. Being smaller while doing more is the overall trend.
Hearing aids are no exception, and it’s not a surprise. The world’s population is getting older and hearing issues, though they can have many different causes, are more common among older people. Around 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians report some amount of hearing impairment according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is going up since age is the best demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Naturally, if you’re dealing with hearing loss, even one individual with difficulty hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Better ways to reduce hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Innovations are happening, here are some.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Whole Body
This is so intuitive, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” innovations. Devices that offer different kinds of health tracking are almost always worn and need to be worn on the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? The answer is no. If you have the latest hearing aid, it can most likely keep track of your pulse, physical activity along with fixing hearing problems like tinnitus. Hearing aids also have the ability to monitor things that other wearables normally don’t, like the time spent conversing. How much social involvement you get can actually be a vital health metric, especially as you age.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Connectivity is the important watchword, as virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa have moved from smartphones to in-home devices without missing a beat. 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 released open-source standards for Android developers that show them how to use specific channels within Bluetooth to produce uninterrupted audio directly to hearing aids. This technology is making things like movies and music more satisfying by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Your next hearing aid may make individualized suggestions similar to how a Fitbit alerts you to fitness objectives or how Netflix recommends your next movie in line with your viewing trend. 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 take it one step further, crowdsourcing information on how people use their hearing aids anonymizing and then aggregating the data. All this information enables the hearing aids to figure out your tendencies and make adjustments on the fly so that if you’re at home watching TV or you’re in an IMAX theater (for example), you’ll get the best possible sound.
Eliminating The Batteries Once And For All
Ya, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? After all, making sure you’ve got spare batteries with you, or even making time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be a pain in the, um, ear. While we’re not likely to see hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a continuous advancement in rechargeable technology. That means longer in-use time, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, all in all, not too shabby.