Woman wearing hearing aids climbing hill with family and laughing at a joke.

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… archaic.

The basic shape of the modern hearing aid was developed in the 1950s. And for some reason, that’s the hearing aid which has become established in our collective consciousness. But thinking of a hearing aid in this way isn’t accurate because those old hearing aids are out-dated technology. To comprehend just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unshackle our imaginations.

Hearing Aids, Then And Now

It’s useful to have some perspective about where hearing aids started to be able to better understand how sophisticated they have become. As far back as the 1500s, you can find some type of hearing aid (though, there’s no proof that these wooden, ear-shaped artifacts were actually effective).

The first somewhat helpful hearing assistance apparatus was most likely the ear trumpet. This device looked like a long trumpet. You would place the narrow end into your ear so that the wide end pointed out. These, er, devices weren’t really high tech, but they did provide some measurable assistance.

The real revolution came when electricity was invited to the party. The hearing aid that we are familiar with was really developed in the 1950s. In order to do their job, they used large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a rather rudimentary design. But these devices represent the birth of a hearing aid that could easily be worn and hidden. Of course, modern hearing aids may share the same form and function as those early 1950s models–but their performance goes far beyond what was conceivable 70 years ago.

Hearing Aid’s Modern Features

Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it bluntly. And they’re constantly developing. In a few significant ways, modern hearing aids have been using the digital technology of the later part of the twentieth century. Power is the first and most important way. Earlier models contained batteries which had less power in a bigger space than their modern counterparts.

And with that improved power comes a long list of innovative advances:

  • Health monitoring: Sophisticated Health tracking software is also included in modern hearing aid options. For example, some hearing aids can recognize whether you’ve had a fall. Other functions can count your steps or give you exercise encouragement.
  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss does not occur through all frequencies and wavelengths equally. Perhaps low frequency noise is hard to hear (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids are much more effective because they will amplify only the frequencies you have a difficult time hearing.
  • Speech recognition: The ultimate goal, for most hearing aid owners, is to assist in communication. Isolating and boosting voices, then, is a primary function of the software of many hearing aids–from a crowded restaurant to an echo-y board room, this feature comes in handy in many situations.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Contemporary hearing aids are now able to communicate with all of your Bluetooth devices. This can be very helpful on a daily basis. Older hearing aids, for example, would have annoying feedback when you would try to talk on the telephone. When you connect to your cellphone via Bluetooth, the transition is simple and communicating is easy. You will also utilize Bluetooth functions to engage in a variety of other electronic activities. Because there isn’t any interference or feedback, it’s easier to watch TV, listen to music–you name it.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids are normally made of high tech materials, so they feel more comfortable. These new materials enable hearing aids to be lighter and more robust simultaneously. 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.

Just like rotary phones no longer represent long-distance communication, the hearing aids of old no longer capture what these devices are. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And that’s a positive thing–because now they’re even better.

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