When somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it may arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But nowadays, AI is more science than just fiction. This is especially true with regard to hearing aids. 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 modern hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a type of technology that makes use of complex algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. AI is capable of using an algorithm to participate in a kind of learning known as “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every individual result because the algorithm does that by itself.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal needs based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How can AI help hearing aids work better?
This may seem a little abstract initially. After all, hearing aids appear to have a pretty straightforward function. How can adding AI to the mix improve things? Well, you know that row of big knobs and switches that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s tiny.) Better sound quality can be achieved by adjusting these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without needing you to do anything.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to imitate human brain responses. Because of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to conditions without being programmed to do so.
This might sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming based on your viewing history. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you make use of these devices, the more reliable they become at making proper decisions.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Here are some of the best examples:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were definitely more difficult during the pandemic when everyone was wearing a facemask. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and stay safe simultaneously.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone locations. A hearing aid can have a difficult time with cross-talk, for instance. But with an AI filtering out non-imperative information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy environment.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own unique acoustic properties. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effectively make automatic corrections that let you hear better in just about any environment.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Essentially, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. This then initiates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
Hearing aid producers and scientists are constantly innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the beginning.
AI for the field of audiology
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Everybody’s heard it, which is okay, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are working on. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But it isn’t just hearing aids. In the future, AI may be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
Patients will find AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, unlike other industries. Some significant benefits to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Here are some of those benefits:
- Social engagement: In terms of managing social interaction, people who use AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some research. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of environments. That said, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life healthy. Likely, it simply helps those who are already social better manage their relationships.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can detect the severity of your fall. In the event of a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, alert the Authorities. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health data easier to understand.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally means a better overall hearing experience.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from a wide variety of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a myriad of other devices. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
What this means for patients
For individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently translate into real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. If you had an older-style hearing aid, it would just boost the volume up. This isn’t helpful because the conversation you actually care about will get overpowered by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and respond the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI learns to identify sounds and creates a location-by-location algorithm. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate these programs. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with day-to-day sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your quality of life will get better.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- Your brain will experience a lower cognitive load.
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Reward vs. cost
There was a time when AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids owing to the costs involved. An algorithm is, in fact, a complex math equation. But prices are decreasing, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
That isn’t saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still may end up wanting a model that doesn’t have AI capabilities. Clearly, patients will still have to make important decisions. But AI features are becoming more widely available and prevalent.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be overkill for somebody who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. But AI makes a big difference for people who are socially involved and go out into noisy situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also useful for somebody who is quickly worn out in social scenarios where the task of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less fatigued 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. As technology and AI improve, hearing aids will continue to as well.
How can AI technology help you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.