Technology is developing into stronger, smarter, and smaller devices. In general, the trend is that devices have more features and take up less space.
So it’s not surprising that hearing aids are no exception. The world’s population is aging and hearing issues, though they can have a number of causes, are more common among older individuals. According to the National Institutes of Health, around 37.5 million individuals and 3 million Canadians describe having difficulty hearing, and because age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number is likely to increase.
If you’re dealing with hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Are there any better ways to deal with hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Here are some of the advancements that are in the works.
Whole-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This is so obvious, 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 have to be worn close to the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? Nope! Or at least, you don’t with some of the newest hearing aids, which along with helping fix hearing difficulties such as tinnitus, will also keep track of your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Hearing aids also have the ability to monitor things that other wearables normally don’t, like the time spent conversing. How much social engagement you get can actually be an important health metric, especially as you get older.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the primary focus here is connectivity. Audio from a device, like a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth compatible. Android developers now have open-source specs supplied by Google which allows them to use specific Bluetooth channels to stream uninterrupted audio directly to your hearing aid. This type of technology is helping hearing aids work almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy music, movies, and more.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
Similar to how Netflix suggests shows and movies based on what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a milestone (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how committed your everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid could make personalized suggestions. 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 push it even further, crowdsourcing data on how individuals use their hearing aids anonymizing and then mixing the data. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be capable of using this information to identify what your situation is and make adjustments to provide you with the most enjoyable audio experience.
Finally Losing 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 a hearing aid that doesn’t use any batteries at all may seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology keeps improving. That means longer time in use, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, all in all, not too bad.