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

Have you utilized your ear trumpet lately? No? You don’t use one? Because that technology is hundreds of years old. Okay, I suppose that makes sense. 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. But visualizing a hearing aid in this way isn’t realistic because those old hearing aids are antiquated technology. We need to really expand our thinking if we want to understand how much more advanced modern hearing aids are.

The History of Hearing Aids

It’s worthwhile to have some context about where hearing aids started so that you can better perceive how advanced they have become. If we follow the history back far enough, you can likely find some type of hearing assistance device as far back as the 1500s (whether any of them ever actually helped you hear better is still up for debate).

The “ear trumpet” was perhaps the first marginally useful hearing assistance apparatus. This construct was shaped like, well, a long horn. You would place the narrow end inside your ear so that the wide end faced out. These, er, devices weren’t really high tech, but they did offer some measurable help.

Once electricity was introduced, hearing aids had a real revolution. The hearing aid as we now know it was really created in the 1950s. In order to work properly, they relied on large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a fairly rudimentary design. But a hearing aid that could be easily worn and hidden started with these devices. The hearing aids of the 1950s may have looked comparable to modern hearing aids but the technology and capability is worlds apart.

Modern Capabilities of Hearing Aids

Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it plainly. And they keep getting better. Since the late twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been making use of digital technologies in a number of significant ways. The first, and the most important way, is simple: power. Earlier models had batteries that had less power in a bigger space than their present counterparts.

And a number of cutting-edge advances come with greater power:

  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss doesn’t manifest through all wavelengths and frequencies equally. Maybe low frequency sound is hard to hear (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids can be programmed to amplify only those sounds that you can’t hear so well, producing a much more effective hearing aid.
  • Health monitoring: Contemporary hearing aids are also capable of incorporating advanced health tracking software into their options. if you have a fall, for instance, some hearing aids can recognize that. Other features can count your steps or give you exercise support.
  • Speech recognition: The ultimate objective, for many hearing aid users, is to enhance communication. Isolating and boosting voices, then, is a principal function of the software of many hearing aids–which can be very useful in a wide variety of situations, from a packed restaurant to an echo-y meeting room.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids feel more comfortable because they are constructed from high tech materials. These new materials permit hearing aids to be lighter and more heavy-duty at the same time. It’s easy to see how hearing aids have advanced on the outside as well as the inside with the addition of long lasting and rechargeable batteries.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Modern hearing aids can now connect to all of your Bluetooth devices. You will utilize this feature on a daily basis. Old style hearing aids, for example, would have aggravating feedback when you would try to talk on the telephone. With modern hearing aids, you can just connect to your cellphone using Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. This is true for a wide range of other scenarios regarding electronic devices. Because there isn’t any interference or feedback, it’s easier to listen to music, watch TV–you name it.

Just like rotary phones no longer exemplify long-distance communication, older hearing aids no longer represent what these devices are. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And we should be excited because they’re a lot better than they were.

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