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Woman wearing hearing aids climbing hill with family and laughing at a joke.

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 fundamental shape of the modern hearing aid was designed in the 1950s. And that old style hearing aid is generally the one we remember and picture. The trouble is that a hearing aid made in the 1950s is just about as out-dated as a hearing trumpet. To understand just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unleash our imaginations.

Hearing Aids, Then And Now

In order to better comprehend just how advanced hearing aids have become, it’s useful to have some context about where they started out. As far back as the 1500s, it’s possible to come across some form of hearing aid (though, there’s no evidence that these wooden, ear-shaped items were actually effective).

The “ear trumpet” was probably the first marginally useful hearing assistance mechanism. This device appeared to be a long horn. You would put the small end inside your ear so that the wide end pointed out. Nowadays, you wouldn’t think of this device as high tech, but back then they actually offer some help.

The real innovation came when electricity was invited to the party. In the 1950s the hearing aid that we are all familiar with was created. They were rather rudimentary, relying on transistors and large, antiquated batteries to effectively work. But a hearing aid that could be conveniently worn and hidden began with these devices. The hearing aids of the 1950s may have appeared comparable to modern hearing aids but the technology and capability is worlds apart.

Modern Capabilities of Hearing Aids

Put simply, modern hearing aids are technological masterpieces. And they continue making improvements. Since the later years of the twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been benefiting from digital technologies in a number of powerful ways. Power is the first and most essential way. Earlier models contained batteries which had less power in a bigger space than their current counterparts.

And with that increased power comes a long list of sophisticated advances:

  • Health monitoring: State-of-the-art Health tracking software is also included in modern hearing aid options. For instance, some hearing aids can detect when you’ve fallen. There are others that can notify you about your fitness goals such as how many steps that you’ve taken.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Modern hearing aids can now connect to all of your Bluetooth devices. You will utilize this function every day. Old style hearing aids, for instance, would have irritating feedback when you would attempt to talk on the phone. When you connect to your cellphone using Bluetooth, the transition is simple and communication is effortless. You will also utilize Bluetooth functions to participate in a wide range of other electronic activities. This means quick, feedback free connection to your music, TV, etc.
  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss doesn’t manifest through all wavelengths and frequencies uniformly. Perhaps you have a more difficult time hearing high-frequency sounds (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids can be programmed to amplify only those sounds that you can’t hear very well, creating a much more effective hearing aid.
  • Speech recognition: For lots of hearing aid owners, the biggest goal of these devices is to facilitate communication. Separating and amplifying voices, then, is a primary feature of the software of many hearing aids–from a crowded restaurant to an echo-y board room, this feature is useful in many circumstances.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids feel more comfortable because they are constructed from high tech materials. While these new materials allow hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also enables them to be more robust. And with the addition of long-lasting, rechargeable batteries, it’s easy to see how not only the inside–but the outside–of hearing aids have advanced over the years.

The older style hearing aids no longer represent what hearing aids are, just as rotary phones no longer illustrate what long distance communication looks like. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And we should be excited because they’re much better than they used to be.

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