It seems as if all our devices are getting smarter, stronger, and smaller. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
Hearing aids are no exception, and it’s not surprising. Though hearing issues have a variety of causes, hearing issues are more common amongst older individuals, and the world’s population is aging. According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe having difficulty hearing, and since age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number will probably increase.
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Better ways to decrease hearing loss? Let’s have them! Advancements are happening, here are some.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Entire Body
This is so intuitive, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” developments. Health and fitness trackers have to be worn on the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? The answer is no. Or at least, you don’t with some of the newest hearing aids, which along with helping fix hearing difficulties such as tinnitus, will also track your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Certainly, a wearable such as an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can offer you other types of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend having conversations or listening. How much social involvement you get can actually be an important health metric, especially as you get older.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have smoothly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the primary focus here is connectivity. Audio from a device, like 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 specific channels within Bluetooth to produce uninterrupted audio directly to hearing aids. This technology is making things like movies and music more enjoyable by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
In a similar way to how Netflix recommends shows and movies according to what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit buzzes to let you know you’ve reached a milestone (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how ambitious your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid could make personalized recommendations. The places you visit and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being manufactured by several brands, to learn your habits. Some take it one step further, crowdsourcing information on how individuals use their hearing aids anonymizing and then mixing the data. All this info enables the hearing aids to ascertain your tendencies and make adjustments on the fly so that whether you’re at home watching TV or you’re at an IMAX theater (for example), you’ll get the best sound.
Finally Losing The Batteries
Ya, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? After all, making sure you’ve got spare batteries on hand, or even making time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be annoying. While we’re not likely to get hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a constant advancement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get quicker charging time, longer use time, and less worry about batteries, which seems pretty good.