When somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it might conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all better get accustomed to. This is particularly true when it comes to hearing aids. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that simply increase the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a type of technology that makes use of sophisticated algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. In doing this, AI algorithms engage in a kind of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. As soon as the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each separate result.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make modifications depending on your routines and your needs. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How does AI help hearing aids work better?
At first, this might seem a bit abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can adding AI to the situation enhance things? Well, you know that row of big dials and buttons that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve probably seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better audio quality can be attained 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. Because of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to conditions without being programmed to deal with them.
This might sound like space-age science, but it’s the same fundamental 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 correct decisions.
New advances in AI hearing aids
These days, hearing aids are integrating several brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the most relevant instances include the following:
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has lots of echoes, or is extremely loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. A hearing aid can have a difficult time with cross-talk, for instance. But even in a loud setting, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the person across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own distinctive acoustic properties. Some of those qualities are helpful for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. You will hear better in nearly any environment with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were definitely more difficult during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and remain safe at the same time.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Essentially, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. This then activates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
Hearing aid makers and scientists are continuously innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the tip of the iceberg.
AI for the field of audiology
These days, AI has kind of become something of a buzzword. Everybody’s heard it, which is good, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So when it comes to the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
First off, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more beneficial to patients. New technologies, like machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of this research. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. In the future, AI may be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
Patients will find AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
Unlike some other industries, AI is not being integrated into hearing aids simply because it’s the popular new thing. These machine learning algorithms provide some significant advantages to patients. Among those benefits are the following:
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this often translates into hearing better more frequently.
- Social engagement: Studies have found that people who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful when it comes to dealing with their social engagement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which most likely accounts for better social engagement. With that being said, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life afloat. Most likely, it simply helps those who are already social better manage their relationships.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can detect the severity of your fall. In some situations, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones if there is a major fall. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health information easier to interpret.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you really want to hear.
What this means for patients
These benefits often become real-world advantages for individuals with these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and respond the way your brain would, lowering background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI learns to identify sounds and generates a location-by-location algorithm. If you return to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate these algorithms. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with day-to-day sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You will have improved quality of life.
- The cognitive load will be decreased.
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
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
There was a time when AI was not offered in the vast majority of hearing aids due to the costs involved. An algorithm is, in fact, a complex math equation. But prices are coming down, 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 necessarily be less costly in the near future. Obviously, 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
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the additional cost. But AI makes a huge difference for individuals who are socially involved and go out into noisy situations a lot.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. Social situations are simpler and the user will feel less fatigued 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. Hearing aids will continue to improve as AI technology improves.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can work for you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.