Have you utilized your ear trumpet lately? No? You don’t have one? Because that technology is centuries old. Okay, I suppose that seems logical. Ear trumpets are a bit… antiquated.
The modern(ish) hearing aid, it turns out, was introduced in the 1950s–the basic design, that is. And for some reason, that’s the hearing aid which has become identified in our collective consciousness. But visualizing a hearing aid in this way isn’t realistic because those old hearing aids are antiquated technology. To comprehend just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unshackle our imaginations.
The History of Hearing Aids
It’s useful to have some context concerning where hearing aids began in order to better comprehend how sophisticated they have become. As far back as the 1500s, you can come across some form of hearing aid (though, there’s no proof that these wooden, ear-shaped artifacts actually worked).
The first moderately helpful hearing assistance apparatus was most likely the ear trumpet. This device looked like a long horn. You would put the narrow end in 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. In the 1950s the hearing aid that we are all familiar with was developed. They were fairly basic, relying on transistors and large, primitive batteries to get the job done. But these gadgets represent the start of a hearing aid that could easily be worn and concealed. The hearing aids of the 1950s may have looked comparable to modern hearing aids but the technology and functionality is worlds apart.
Hearing Aid’s Modern Features
Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it bluntly. And they keep making improvements. In a few significant ways, modern hearing aids have been using the digital technology of the later twentieth century. The first, and the most important way, is straight forward: power. Earlier models contained batteries that had less power in a bigger space than their modern counterparts.
And with that increased power comes a long list of innovative advances:
- Speech recognition: For countless hearing aid owners, the supreme objective of these devices is to assist in communication. Isolating and boosting voices, then, is a primary function of the software of many hearing aids–which can be pretty handy in a wide variety of scenarios, from a packed restaurant to an echo-y meeting room.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss doesn’t occur through all frequencies and wavelengths uniformly. Perhaps you have a more difficult time hearing high-frequency sounds (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids can be programmed to boost only those sounds that you are unable to hear very well, producing a much more efficient hearing aid.
- Bluetooth connectivity: Modern hearing aids can now communicate with all of your Bluetooth devices. This can be extremely helpful on a daily basis. Old style hearing aids, for instance, would have aggravating feedback when you would try to talk on the phone. With modern hearing aids, you can just connect to your cellphone using Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. You will also utilize Bluetooth connectivity to participate in a variety of other electronic activities. Because there isn’t any feedback or interference, it’s easier to listen to music, watch TV–you name it.
- Health monitoring: Advanced Health tracking software is also incorporated into modern hearing aid choices. For example, some hearing aids can recognize when you’ve fallen. There are other features that can inform you about your fitness goals such as how many steps that you’ve taken.
- Construction: Modern hearing aids are typically made of advanced materials, so they feel more comfortable. While these new materials allow hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also allows them to be more robust. It’s easy to see how hearing aids have advanced on the outside as well as the inside by adding long lasting and rechargeable batteries.
The old style hearing aids no longer exemplify what hearing aids are, in the same way as rotary phones no longer illustrate what long distance communication looks like. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And we should be excited because they’re much better than they were.