You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than just fiction. This is especially true when it comes to hearing aids. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that simply increase the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a form of technology that makes use of sophisticated algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. AI is capable of using an algorithm to take part in a type of learning known as “machine learning”. Once the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each separate result.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal needs depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
Initially, this might seem a little abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard full of buttons and dials. (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Changing these settings can provide better sound quality. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, improving how you hear without any effort on your part.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a rich neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time conditions because of this.
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 provider uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you utilize these devices, the more efficient they become at making proper decisions.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Essentially, you can activate something called edge mode whenever you’re having a difficult time hearing. When this is initiated AI will begin working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a setting that has a lot of echoes, or is excessively loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. A hearing aid can have a difficult 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 packed or noisy environment.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own unique acoustic characteristics. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic corrections that allow you to hear better in just about any environment.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were definitely harder during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping individuals with hearing aids hear better and stay safe at the same time.
This is likely only the beginning of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI employed in the field of audiology?
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Depending on the context, AI does different things, which can in some cases lead to confusion. 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 tackling. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. In the future, AI might be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
As the technology expands and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids simply because it’s the hot new thing. Some considerable benefits to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Among those benefits are the following:
- Social engagement: Studies have shown that people who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to dealing with their social involvement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which likely accounts for better social engagement. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Likely, it simply helps those who are already social better manage their relationships.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate 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 often translates into hearing better more frequently.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be able to detect the significance and seriousness of your tumble. If there is a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, notify the Authorities. AI can also make your health information easier to interpret, helping you identify when you should be exercising more, eating healthier, or just drinking more water.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you will hear is the sound you really want to hear.
What this means for patients
These benefits frequently become real-world advantages for individuals with these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while dulling undesired noise.
AI will create a location-by-location algorithm to deal with the various kinds of sounds it detects. If you return to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate these algorithms. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- You will have improved quality of life.
- Your brain will have a lower cognitive load.
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
In other words, it’ll be easier to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite friends, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI was not available in most hearing aids due to the costs involved. An algorithm is, in fact, an intricate math equation. However, partially because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are beginning to go down.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still might wind up wanting a model that doesn’t include AI capabilities. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI features are becoming more readily available and common.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be overkill for somebody who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in conditions with many competing sounds, however, it makes a huge 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 simpler 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.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can work for you? Make an appointment with us right away.