When someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it may arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But these days, AI is more science than fiction. This is particularly true with regard to hearing aids. The days when hearing aids simply increased the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a type of technology that utilizes sophisticated algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. AI is capable of using an algorithm to take part in a type of learning called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every individual result because the algorithm does that by itself.
Depending on the amount of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make adjustments depending on your routines and your needs. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
This may feel a little abstract at first. After all, hearing aids seem to have a pretty basic function. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, you know that row of big knobs and buttons that people use to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve most likely seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better quality of sound can be attained by altering these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without needing you to do anything.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to imitate human brain responses. Because of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to situations 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 suggest programming based on your viewing history. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your emAIl supplier utilizes it to auto-sort emAIls into your inbox. These devices become more expert at making correct decisions the more you use them.
New improvements in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio properties come with each individual room you walk into. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it doesn’t do so well with. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effectively make automatic corrections that allow you to hear better in almost any environment.
- 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 called Edge Mode. When this is activated AI will start working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were definitely harder 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.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has a lot of echoes, or is overly loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. A hearing aid can have a difficult time with cross-talk, for example. But with an AI filtering out non-imperative information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy environment.
Hearing aid manufacturers and scientists are constantly developing new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the beginning.
How is AI employed in the field of audiology?
These days, AI has kind of become something of a buzzword. Everyone’s heard it, which is okay, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
First, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more useful 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. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will likely do in the future.
Patients will find AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids just because it’s the popular new fad. Some significant advantages to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Among those advantages are the following:
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from a wide variety of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a myriad of other devices. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you will hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- Social engagement: Studies have shown that those who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to dealing with their social engagement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which probably accounts for better social engagement. Having said that, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life afloat. It most likely just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices 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 often means hearing better more often.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be able to detect the significance and seriousness of your tumble. In the event of a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, notify the Authorities. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health information easier to interpret.
How does this impact patients?
For people with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently become real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. This isn’t useful because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and respond the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will create a location-by-location program to deal with the various kinds of sounds it picks up. If you return to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate these programs. In order to better identify and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with everyday sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your quality of life will improve.
- The cognitive load will be decreased.
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Reward vs. cost
There was a time when AI wasn’t offered in the vast majority of hearing aids owing to the costs involved. After all, the device itself has to perform some extreme calculations (an algorithm, of course, is basically a very elegant math problem). However, in part 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 may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will automatically be less expensive in the near future. Obviously, 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 widely available.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be too much for somebody who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in situations with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a huge difference.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. AI-powered hearing aids reduce the listener’s fatigue and make social situations more enjoyable. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. Hearing aids will keep improving as AI technology improves.
How can AI technology help you? Make an appointment with us right away.