You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But nowadays, AI is more science than just fiction. This is especially true when it comes to hearing aids. The days when hearing aids merely boosted the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone forever. Contemporary, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a form of technology that uses complex algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. AI is able to use an algorithm to take part in a kind of learning known as “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every specific result because the algorithm does that by itself.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal requirements based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How does AI help hearing aids work better?
This might feel a bit abstract initially. After all, hearing aids appear to have a rather basic function. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard full of switches and knobs. (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better sound quality can be obtained by modifying these settings. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing how you hear without any effort by you.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a deep neural network. As a result of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to situations without being programmed to do so.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services suggest movies according to your viewing history, though it probably sounds like futuristic technology initially. Newer cars utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your email provider uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you use these devices, the more reliable they become at making proper decisions.
New improvements in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Basically, you can initiate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a hard time hearing. When this is activated AI will begin working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone settings. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for example. But with an AI filtering out non-essential information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy setting.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were undoubtedly harder during the pandemic when everyone was wearing a facemask. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and remain safe simultaneously.
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio qualities come with each specific room you walk into. Some of those properties are good for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effectively make automatic adjustments that allow you to hear better in nearly any environment.
This is most likely only the start of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI employed in the field of audiology?
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Everybody’s heard it, which is okay, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So in terms of the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
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, including deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will likely do in the future.
As the technology grows and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids just because it’s the popular new thing. Some significant benefits to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Here are a few of those benefits:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can determine the severity of your fall. In some cases, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a major fall. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
- 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 will hear is the sound you really want to hear.
- Social engagement: When it comes to managing social interaction, individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some research. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which probably accounts for better social interaction. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Likely, it simply helps people who are already social better maintain their relationships.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn off those algorithms. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally means a better overall hearing experience.
How does this impact patients?
For people who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently result in real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. And sadly, 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 dulling unwanted noise.
AI will generate a location-by-location algorithm to deal with the various types of sounds it detects. These programs help when you go back to a particular location or sound profile. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with everyday sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- Your quality of life will improve.
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- The cognitive burden will be decreased.
You will be able to hang out 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 the majority of hearing aids until recent times. After all, the device itself has to do some intense 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 isn’t saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still might wind up wanting a model that doesn’t have AI capabilities. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI functions are becoming more readily available and prevalent.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be too much for somebody who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in scenarios with many competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also helpful for somebody who is quickly worn out in social scenarios where the task of keeping up with conversations using a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. 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 develop, hearing aids will continue to too.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can work for you? Give us a call to make an appointment!