You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get used to. When it comes to hearing aids, this is particularly true. The times when hearing aids simply increased the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. Contemporary, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a form of technology that utilizes 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”. Once the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each separate result.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal needs based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
At first, this might seem a bit abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard full of buttons and dials. (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid includes one of those! (It’s tiny.) Better sound quality can be achieved by adjusting these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without requiring you to do anything.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to re-create human brain responses. As a result of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to conditions without being programmed to do so.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services recommend movies based on your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like space-aged technology at first. AI is also encountered in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you make use of these devices, the more efficient they become at making proper decisions.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Some of the most relevant examples 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. Cross talk, for example, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But even in a noisy setting, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the person across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. In essence, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. This then initiates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but definitely made conversations with a hearing aid more challenging. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and stay safe simultaneously.
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio properties come with each individual room you go into. Some of those properties are helpful for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. You will hear better in almost any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
This is probably only the start of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the discipline of audiology
These days, AI has sort of become something of a buzzword. Everyone’s heard it, which is good, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So when it comes to the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are working on. New technologies, like machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But it isn’t just hearing aids. In the future, AI may be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
As the technology develops and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being integrated into hearing aids simply because it’s the popular new thing. Some considerable advantages 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 situations, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a severe fall. AI can also make your health information easier to understand, helping you know when you should be exercising more, eating better, or just drinking more water.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you actually want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- 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 clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally means a better overall hearing experience.
- Social engagement: Studies have revealed that those who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful in terms of dealing with their social involvement. This is most likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of environments. With that being said, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life healthy. It most likely just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
What this means for patients
These benefits often result in real-world advantages for people who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI learns to recognize sounds and generates a location-by-location program. If you return to a specific location or sound profile, AI can activate these programs. 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 advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- The cognitive load will be reduced.
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- You will have improved quality of life.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to follow along with your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI was not available in the vast majority of hearing aids owing to the costs involved. After all, the device itself has to perform some intense calculations (an algorithm, after all, is essentially a very elegant math problem). However, partially because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are starting to go down.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want might have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less costly in the near future. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more readily available.
Finding out what option is best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be too much for someone who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in scenarios with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a huge difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also practical for someone 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 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 keep improving as AI technology improves.
How can AI technology help you? Give us a call to schedule an appointment!