Technology is developing into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. In general, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
Hearing aids are no exception, and it’s not a surprise. The world’s population is getting older and hearing problems, though they can have many different causes, are more common amongst older individuals. According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly 37.5 million individuals and 3 million Canadians describe having difficulty hearing, and since age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number is likely to increase.
If you’re dealing with hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Better ways to decrease hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Innovations are happening, here are a few.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Entire Body
This is so intuitive, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” innovations. Health and fitness trackers have to be worn on the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? Nope! If you have a newer hearing aid, it probably can keep track of your pulse, physical activity along with improving hearing problems like tinnitus. Certainly, a wearable such as an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can provide you with other kinds of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend having conversations or listening. How much social engagement you get can actually be a vital health metric, especially as you age.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Connectivity is the major watchword, as virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa have moved from smartphones to in-home devices without missing a beat. Some hearing aids that provide Bluetooth capabilities now let users stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for example, to the hearing aids. Android developers now have open-source specifications provided by Google which allows them to use specific Bluetooth channels to stream uninterrupted audio straight to your hearing aid. This technology is making things like music and movies more enjoyable by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
In a similar way to how Netflix recommends shows and movies according to what you’ve watched previously, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how committed your everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid could make personalized recommendations. Several manufacturers are working on hearing aids that will learn both from the adjustments you make and from listening to the places you go. Some go as far as to crowdsource information about people’s usage habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. All this info enables the hearing aids to ascertain your tendencies and make adjustments on the fly so that if you’re at home watching TV or you’re in an IMAX theater (for example), you’ll get the best sound.
Getting Rid of The Batteries For Good
We know, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t require batteries? It can be very inconvenient making certain you have extra batteries or that your hearing aids are completely charged. While a hearing aid that doesn’t use any batteries at all might seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology keeps improving. You’ll get faster charging time, extended use time, and less worry about batteries, which seems pretty good.