You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get used to. This is particularly true with regard to hearing aids. The times when hearing aids merely increased the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone forever. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
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. AI is capable of using an algorithm to participate in a type of learning known as “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every specific result because the algorithm does that by itself.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal requirements depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
This might seem a little abstract at first. After all, hearing aids seem to have a rather straightforward function. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with switches and dials. (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Changing these settings can provide better sound quality. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without needing you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a deep neural network. As a result of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to situations without being programmed to deal with them.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to suggest movies based on your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like futuristic technology initially. AI is also found 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 correct decisions.
AI hearing aids – new advances
These days, hearing aids are incorporating multiple brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Essentially, you can activate something called edge mode whenever you’re having a hard time hearing. When this is initiated AI will start working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio properties come with each individual room you walk into. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. You will hear better in nearly any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has lots of echoes, or is extremely loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for instance. But with an AI filtering out non-essential information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy environment.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but certainly made conversations with a hearing aid more difficult. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and remain safe at the same time.
Hearing aid producers and scientists are continuously innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the tip of the iceberg.
AI for the discipline of audiology
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Everybody’s heard it, which is okay, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more useful for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are tackling. This research includes new technologies, such as deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will likely do in the future.
As the technology expands and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being integrated into hearing aids simply because it’s the popular new thing. Some significant advantages to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Among those benefits are the following:
- Social engagement: Studies have shown that those who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful in terms of managing their social involvement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which most likely accounts for better social interaction. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It probably just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you really want to hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be capable of detecting the significance and seriousness of your tumble. In some situations, these hearing aids might 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 understand.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally translates into hearing better more often.
How does this impact patients?
These benefits often translate into real-world advantages for people who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. This isn’t helpful because the conversation you actually care about will get overpowered by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while lowering unwanted noise.
AI learns to recognize sounds and generates a location-by-location program. These algorithms help when you return to a specific location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- You will have improved quality of life.
- Your brain will experience a decreased cognitive burden.
- You will feel less aggravated because you will be able to hear better.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids until recent times. After all, the device itself must do some intense calculations (an algorithm, of course, is essentially a very elegant math problem). But prices are decreasing, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
That isn’t saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still may wind up wanting a model that doesn’t include AI functionality. Clearly, patients will still have to make important decisions. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more widely available.
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 added cost. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in scenarios with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also helpful for somebody who is quickly worn out in social situations where the task of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. AI-powered hearing aids reduce the listener’s exhaustion and make social situations more enjoyable. 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? Schedule an appointment with us right away.