Have you utilized your ear trumpet lately? No? You don’t use one? Because that technology is hundreds of years old. Okay, I suppose that makes sense. Ear trumpets are a bit… antiquated.
The modern(ish) hearing aid, it turns out, was introduced in the 1950s–the basic shape, that is. And that old style hearing aid is generally the one we remember and think of. The problem is that a hearing aid developed in the 1950s is just about as antiquated as an ear trumpet. To comprehend just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unleash our imaginations.
The History of Hearing Aids
To be able to better recognize just how sophisticated hearing aids have become, it’s useful to have some context about where they began. As far back as the 1500s, it’s possible to find some form of hearing aid (whether any of them ever actually helped you improve your hearing is probably unlikely).
The “ear trumpet” was perhaps the first marginally useful hearing assistance apparatus. This device was shaped like, well, a long horn. The wide end faced the world and the narrow end was oriented into your ear. These, um, devices weren’t exactly high tech, but they did offer some measurable assistance.
The real innovation came once electricity was invited to the party. In the 1950s the hearing aid as we know it was developed. They were rather rudimentary, using transistors and large, antiquated batteries to get the job done. But a hearing aid that could be easily worn and hidden started with these devices. The hearing aids of the 1950s may have appeared comparable to modern hearing aids but the technology and capability is worlds apart.
Modern Capabilities of Hearing Aids
Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it plainly. And they’re constantly improving. Since the late twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been utilizing digital technologies in a number of significant ways. Power is the first and most important way. Modern hearing aids can pack substantially more power into a much smaller space than their earlier forerunners.
And with that improved power comes a large number of sophisticated developments:
- Bluetooth connectivity: Modern hearing aids are now able to communicate with all of your Bluetooth devices. You will use this function every day. Older hearing aids, for example, would have irritating feedback when you would attempt to talk on the phone. When you connect to your cellphone using Bluetooth, the transition is simple and communication is effortless. You will also utilize Bluetooth functions to engage in a variety of other electronic activities. This means simple, feedback free connection to your TV, music, etc.
- Construction: Modern hearing aids feel more comfortable because they are constructed from high tech materials. These new materials enable hearing aids to be lighter and more robust simultaneously. And by adding long-lasting, rechargeable batteries, it’s easy to see how not just the inside–but also the outside–of hearing aids have advanced over the years.
- Speech recognition: For many hearing aid owners, the biggest goal of these devices is to facilitate communication. Some hearing aids, then, have built-in speech recognition software created to isolate and boost voices mainly–from a crowded restaurant to an echo-y meeting hall, this feature is useful in many situations.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss does not occur across all wavelengths and frequencies uniformly. Maybe you have a harder time hearing high-frequency noises (or vice versa). Contemporary hearing aids are far more effective because they are able to amplify only the frequencies you have a difficult time hearing.
- Health monitoring: State-of-the-art Health tracking software is also integrated into modern hearing aid choices. if you have a fall, for example, some hearing aids can detect that. There are other functions that can keep you informed about your fitness goals such as how many steps that you have taken.
The old style hearing aids no longer exemplify what hearing aids are, just as rotary phones no longer capture what long distance communication looks like. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And we should be excited because they’re substantially better than they used to be.