When someone talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it might conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But nowadays, AI is more science than fiction. With regard to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that simply raise the volume of sounds around you. Contemporary, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that utilizes data inputs to generate new results. In doing this, AI algorithms engage in a kind of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. As soon as the algorithm is working correctly, 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. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear because of this.
How can you hear better with AI?
This might seem a bit abstract initially. After all, hearing aids seem to have a fairly straightforward function. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, you know that row of big knobs and buttons that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s tiny.) Better sound quality can be achieved by altering these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without requiring you to do anything.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to re-create human brain responses. Because of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to conditions without being programmed to do so.
This might sound like space-age science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to recommend programming according to your viewing history. Newer cars utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier utilizes it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you utilize these devices, the more efficient they become at making proper decisions.
AI hearing aids – new advances
These days, hearing aids are integrating several brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio properties come with each individual room you walk into. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effectively make automatic corrections that let you hear better in almost any setting.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Basically, you can activate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a tough time hearing. This then triggers the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was masking up, which was good, but certainly made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and remain safe at the same time.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a variety of loud or echo-prone locations. A hearing aid can have a difficult time with cross-talk, for instance. But even in a loud setting, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
This is probably only the beginning of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI utilized in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has sort of become a bit of a buzzword. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can occasionally lead to confusion. So when it comes to the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
Making hearing aids even more helpful for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are tackling. This research includes new technologies, such as deep neural networks and machine learning. But it isn’t just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will most likely do in the future.
As the technology develops and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, in contrast to other industries. Some considerable advantages to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Among those advantages are the following:
- Social engagement: Studies have revealed that people who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to dealing with their social involvement. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of environments. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Likely, it simply helps those who are already social better maintain their relationships.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be capable of detecting the significance and severity of your tumble. If there is a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, notify the Authorities. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to understand.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually translates into hearing better more frequently.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from a wide variety of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a range of other devices. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you really want to hear.
What this means for patients
For individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often become real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. This isn’t helpful because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while dulling unwanted noise.
AI learns to identify sounds and generates a location-by-location program. If you go back to a specific location or sound profile, AI can activate these programs. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with day-to-day sounds.
Here are some other practical benefits to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- The cognitive load will be decreased.
- Your quality of life will get better.
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t offered in most hearing aids until recently. An algorithm is, in fact, an intricate math equation. But prices are decreasing, partially due to the prevalence of the technology.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will automatically be less pricey in the near future. Obviously, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI functions are becoming more widely available and common.
Finding out what option is best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the additional cost. But AI makes a big difference for people who are socially involved and go out into loud situations a lot.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. AI-powered hearing aids decrease the listener’s exhaustion and make social situations more enjoyable. 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.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can work for you? Give us a call to set up an appointment!