When somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it might conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all better get accustomed to. With regard to hearing aids, this is especially true. The days when hearing aids merely increased the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a type of technology that makes use of complex algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. In this way, AI algorithms take part in a kind of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. When the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each separate result.
Depending on the extent 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 increasing your ability to hear as a result.
How does AI help hearing aids work better?
At first, this might seem a little abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with buttons and knobs. (You’ve probably seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s tiny.) Better quality of sound can be obtained by altering these settings. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, improving how you hear without any hassle on your part.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to imitate human brain responses. As a result 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 according to your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like futuristic technology initially. Newer cars utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your emAIl provider utilizes it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. These devices become more proficient at making correct decisions the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
These days, hearing aids are incorporating multiple brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the most relevant examples include the following:
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone settings. A hearing aid can have a difficult time with cross-talk, for example. But with an AI filtering out non-imperative information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy setting.
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio properties come with each specific room you walk into. Some of those qualities are good for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic corrections that let you hear better in almost any setting.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was wearing masks, which was good, but certainly made conversations with a hearing aid more difficult. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and remain safe at the same time.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Basically, you can initiate something called edge mode whenever you’re having a hard time hearing. When this is initiated AI will start working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
Hearing aid makers and scientists are continuously innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the tip of the iceberg.
AI for the field of audiology
These days, AI has sort of become something of a buzzword. Everyone’s heard it, which is good, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
First off, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more useful to patients. New technologies, like machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will likely do in the future.
As the technology grows and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, unlike other industries. These machine learning algorithms provide some considerable advantages to patients. Among those benefits are the following:
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad 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.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be able to detect the significance and seriousness of your tumble. In some situations, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones in the event of a severe fall. AI can also make your health data easier to interpret, helping you identify when you should be moving more, eating healthier, or just hydrating more.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn off those algorithms. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually means hearing better more frequently.
- Social engagement: When it comes to managing social interaction, individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some studies. This is likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a wider variety of settings. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It probably just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
How does this affect patients?
These benefits often lead to real-world advantages for those with these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will create a location-by-location program to address the various kinds of sounds it detects. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can activate these algorithms. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with day-to-day 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 lower cognitive burden.
- Your quality of life will improve.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
In other words, it’ll be easier to follow along with your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI was not offered in the vast majority of hearing aids due to the costs involved. After all, the device itself must perform some extreme calculations (an algorithm, after all, is essentially a very fancy math problem). But prices are decreasing, partially due to the prevalence of the technology.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still may wind up choosing a model that doesn’t have AI capabilities. Obviously, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more widely available.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be too much for someone who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. To someone who is socially involved 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 very helpful. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less tired with AI hearing aids. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. Hearing aids will continue to improve as AI technology improves.
How can AI technology help you? Contact us to make an appointment!