When someone talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it might arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But nowadays, AI is more science than fiction. This is particularly true when it comes to hearing aids. The times when hearing aids simply boosted 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 complex computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to generate new results. AI is able to use an algorithm to take part in a type of learning known as “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every specific result because the algorithm does that on its own.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal requirements based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear as a result.
How can you hear better with AI?
Initially, this might seem a bit abstract. After all, hearing aids appear to have a pretty straightforward function. How can adding AI to the situation improve things? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with buttons and knobs. (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better sound quality can be achieved by modifying these settings. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing the way you hear without any effort by you.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a deep neural network. Because of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to conditions 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 space-aged technology initially. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more proficient at making correct choices the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Here are some of the best examples:
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own unique acoustic properties. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. You will hear better in almost any setting with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. Essentially, you can activate something called edge mode whenever you’re having a difficult time hearing. This then triggers the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a variety of loud or echo-prone settings. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for example. But with an AI filtering out non-essential information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy environment.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was wearing masks, which was good, but definitely made conversations with a hearing aid more challenging. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping those with hearing aids hear better and remain safe at the same time.
Hearing aid manufacturers and scientists are continuously innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the beginning.
AI for the field of audiology
These days, AI has sort of become a bit of a buzzword. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can occasionally lead to confusion. So with regard to the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
Making hearing aids even more useful for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are working on. This research includes new technologies, including deep neural networks and machine learning. But it’s not just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will most likely do in the future.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
In contrast to some other industries, AI isn’t being integrated into hearing aids simply because it’s the popular new fad. These machine learning algorithms offer some significant advantages to patients. Here are a few of those benefits:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can detect the severity of your fall. 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 healthier? AI can make your health information easier to understand.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on 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 means a better overall hearing experience.
- Social engagement: Studies have revealed that individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful in terms of dealing with their social involvement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which most likely accounts for better social interaction. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Most likely, it simply helps those who are already social better maintain their relationships.
How does this impact patients?
These benefits often lead to real-world advantages for those who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while lowering unwanted noise.
AI will create a location-by-location program to address the various types of sounds it detects. These algorithms help when you return to a particular location or sound profile. 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 benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You will have improved quality of life.
- The cognitive burden will be decreased.
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Reward vs. cost
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids until recent times. An algorithm is, after all, an intricate math equation. However, in part because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are beginning 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 costly in the near future. Obviously, patients will still need to make important decisions. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more widely available.
Figuring out what option is best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be overkill for someone who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. To somebody who is socially active and finds themselves in conditions with many competing sounds, however, it makes a huge difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also practical for somebody who is quickly worn out in social scenarios where the task of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. AI-powered hearing aids decrease 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. As technology and AI develop, hearing aids will continue to too.
Want to find out how AI hearing aids can work for you? Give us a call to schedule an appointment!