You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all better get accustomed to. When it comes to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely increase the volume of sounds around you. Modern, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a type of technology that makes use of sophisticated algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. In this way, AI algorithms engage in a type of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. Once the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each individual result.
Depending on the degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make adjustments depending on your behaviors and your needs. 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 seem to have a pretty basic function. How can adding AI to the situation enhance things? Well, you know that row of big knobs and switches that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid includes one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Adjusting these settings can provide better sound quality. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, improving how 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 situations without being programmed to do so.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to suggest movies based on your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like futuristic technology at first. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you use these devices, the more reliable they become at making correct decisions.
New improvements in AI hearing aids
These days, hearing aids are integrating multiple brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but definitely made conversations with a hearing aid more difficult. You can remain safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. In essence, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. This then activates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio qualities come with each individual room you walk into. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. You will hear better in almost any setting with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a setting that has lots 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 even in a loud setting, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
This is probably only the beginning of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI employed in the field of audiology?
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Everyone’s heard it, which is okay, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So when it comes to the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
Making hearing aids even more helpful for patients is one of the first and most evident 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 a couple of the things that AI will likely do in the future.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, in contrast to other industries. Some considerable advantages to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Here are a few of those benefits:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can detect the seriousness of your fall. In the event of a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, notify the Authorities. AI can also make your health data easier to interpret, helping you know when you should be moving more, eating healthier, or just hydrating more.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from lots of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a range of other devices. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you actually want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn off those algorithms. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this usually means hearing better more frequently.
- Social engagement: When it comes to managing social interaction, individuals who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some research. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which most likely accounts for better social interaction. Having said that, it’s not completely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life healthy. It probably just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
What this means for patients
For individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often become real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. This isn’t practical because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while lowering unwanted noise.
AI will create a location-by-location program to address the various kinds of sounds it picks up. These algorithms help when you go back to a particular location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your brain will have a decreased cognitive burden.
- Your quality of life will improve.
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
In other words, it’ll be easier to follow along with your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite friends, and take care of your favorite brain.
Reward vs. cost
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t offered in the majority of hearing aids until recently. An algorithm is, after all, a complex math equation. But prices are decreasing, partially due to the prevalence of the technology.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less expensive in the near future. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI features are becoming more readily available and prevalent.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be too much for someone who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. To somebody who is socially active and finds themselves in situations with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less exhausted with AI hearing aids. 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? Make an appointment with us right away.