When was the last time you utilized that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t have one? Because that technology is hundreds of years old. Okay, I suppose that seems logical. Ear trumpets are a bit… antiquated.
The basic shape of the modern hearing aid was developed in the 1950s. And for some reason, that’s the hearing aid which has become identified in our collective consciousness. But thinking of a hearing aid like this isn’t realistic because those old hearing aids are antiquated technology. To comprehend just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unshackle our imaginations.
Hearing Aids, Then And Now
To be able to better recognize just how advanced hearing aids have become, it’s useful to have some perspective about where they began. As far back as the 1500s, you can find some form of hearing aid (though, there’s no evidence that these wooden, ear-shaped items actually worked).
The first somewhat helpful hearing assistance device was probably the ear trumpet. This construct was shaped like, well, a long trumpet. The wide end pointed out and the narrow end was put into your ear. At present, you wouldn’t think of this device as high tech, but back then they actually offer some assistance.
The real innovation came once electricity was invited to the party. The hearing aid as we now know it was really developed in the 1950s. They were fairly basic, using transistors and big, antiquated batteries to get the job done. But a hearing aid that could be easily worn and hidden began with these devices. The hearing aids of the 1950s might have appeared comparable to modern hearing aids but the technology and functionality is worlds apart.
Hearing Aid’s Modern Features
Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it plainly. And they continue getting better. Since the late twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been taking advantage of digital technologies in a few significant ways. Power is the first and most crucial way. Modern hearing aids can pack significantly more power into a much smaller area than their earlier forerunners.
And with that greater power comes a long list of innovative developments:
- Health monitoring: Contemporary hearing aids are also able to incorporate sophisticated health monitoring software into their options. For example, some hearing aids can recognize when you’ve fallen. There are other features that can notify you about your fitness goals like how many steps that you have taken.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss does not manifest through all wavelengths and frequencies equally. Perhaps you have a harder time hearing high-frequency sounds (or vice versa). Contemporary hearing aids can be programmed to amplify only those sounds that you are unable to hear very well, producing a much more efficient hearing aid.
- Bluetooth connectivity: Contemporary hearing aids can now connect to all of your Bluetooth devices. This can be very useful on a daily basis. For example, hearing aids used to have a difficult time with telephone calls because users would experience substantial (and sometimes uncomfortable) feedback. With modern hearing aids, you can just connect to your cellphone using Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. You will also use Bluetooth connectivity to take part in a wide variety of other electronic activities. Because there isn’t any interference or feedback, it’s easier to listen to music, watch TV–you name it.
- Speech recognition: For many hearing aid owners, the biggest objective of these devices is to facilitate communication. Some hearing aids, then, have integrated speech recognition software designed to isolate and amplify voices mainly–from a crowded restaurant to an echo-y board room, this feature is useful in many scenarios.
- Construction: Modern hearing aids are normally constructed out of advanced materials, so they feel more comfortable. While these new materials enable hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also enables them to be more heavy-duty. And with the addition of long-lasting, rechargeable batteries, it’s easy to see how not just the inside–but the outside–of hearing aids have improved over the years.
Just like rotary phones no longer exemplify long-distance communication, the hearing aids of old no longer capture what these devices are. Hearing aids aren’t what they used to be. And we should be excited because they’re much better than they used to be.