Technology is evolving into stronger, smarter, and smaller devices. Being smaller while having more functionality is the overall trend.
So it’s not surprising that hearing aids are no different. Though hearing problems have a variety of causes, hearing issues are more prevalent amongst older people, and the world’s population is aging. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe having difficulty hearing, and since age is a better predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number is likely to go up.
If you’re dealing with hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing impairment? Let’s have them! Here are some of the advancements that are in the works.
Whole-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This one seems like it should be obvious. Devices that provide different kinds of health tracking are almost always worn and have to be worn on the body. So, if you’ve already got a device that’s in your ear… do you actually need another one on your wrist? Nope! Or at least, you don’t with some of the newest hearing aids, which in addition to helping correct for hearing difficulties like tinnitus, will also track your pulse, your physical activity, and a whole lot more. Certainly, a wearable like an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can provide you with other kinds of input that can be helpful to monitoring health, like how much time you spend in active conversation or listening. How much social engagement you get can actually be a vital health metric, particularly as you age.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have smoothly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the principal emphasis here is connectivity. Audio from a device, such as a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth capable. Google published open-source specifications for Android developers that show them how to use certain channels within Bluetooth to produce uninterrupted audio straight to hearing aids. This kind of technology is helping hearing aids work almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy music, movies, and more.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
In a similar way to how Netflix recommends shows and movies based on what you’ve watched previously, or your Fitbit buzzes to let you know you’ve reached a milestone (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how committed your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid could make personalized recommendations. Several manufacturers are working on hearing aids that will learn both from the adjustments you make and from listening to the places you go. Some go as far as to crowdsource data about people’s usage habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be capable of using this information to recognize what your situation is and make adjustments to give you the most enjoyable audio experience.
Finally Ditching The Batteries
Hearing aids that don’t require their batteries replaced? Sound too good to be true? After all, making certain you’ve got spare batteries with you, or even making time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be annoying. While a hearing aid that doesn’t use any batteries at all might seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology continues to improve. That means longer time in use, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, overall, not too shabby.