Technology is evolving into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. Being smaller while doing more is the overall trend.
This is also true for hearing aids, and it’s not surprising. The world’s population is getting older and hearing issues, though they can have a variety of causes, are more common amongst older individuals. Around 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe some level of hearing impairment according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is rising as age is the best demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Of course, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, even one individual with difficulty hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Better ways to alleviate hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Here are some of the innovations that are happening.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Whole Body
This one seems like it should be obvious. Devices that provide different types of health tracking are almost always worn and have to be worn close to the body. So, if you already have a device that’s in your ear… do you really 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 keep track of your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Hearing aids can also track things that other wearables normally don’t, like the time spent conversing. Particularly as you age your level of social involvement can actually be an important health metric.
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the main emphasis here is connectivity. Audio from a device, such as a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth capable. Android developers now have open-source specs provided by Google which lets them use specific Bluetooth channels to stream continuous audio straight to your hearing aid. This kind of technology is helping hearing aids work almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy movies, music, and more.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
Your next hearing aid might make individualized suggestions similar to how a Fitbit informs you of fitness goals or how Netflix recommends your next movie in line with your viewing trend. The places you go and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being developed by a few brands, to learn your behaviors. Some take it one step further, crowdsourcing information on how people use their hearing aids anonymizing and then mixing the data. All this information allows the hearing aids to figure out your preferences and make adjustments on the fly so that whether you’re at home watching TV or you’re in an IMAX theater (for instance), you’ll get the best possible sound.
Finally Ditching The Batteries
Ya, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? It can be very inconvenient making certain you have spare batteries or that your hearing aids are fully charged. While we’re not likely to see hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a consistent advancement in rechargeable technology. That means longer in-use time, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, all in all, not too shabby.