You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all better get accustomed to. When it comes to hearing aids, this is particularly true. The times when hearing aids merely amplified the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids use AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a sophisticated computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to produce new results. In this way, AI algorithms engage in a kind of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. When the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each separate result.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust 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?
This may feel a bit abstract initially. After all, hearing aids seem to have a pretty basic function. How can adding AI to the situation enhance things? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard full of buttons and dials. (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid includes one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Better audio quality can be achieved by modifying these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without requiring you to do anything.
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 according to your viewing history, though it probably sounds like space-aged technology initially. Newer cars utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. These devices become more expert at making correct decisions the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new advances
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Some of the most relevant instances include the following:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was masking up, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more challenging. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping those with hearing aids hear better and stay safe at the same time.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Basically, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. This then triggers the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has a lot of echoes, or is extremely loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. Cross talk, for example, can often be hard on a hearing aid. 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 crowded or noisy environment.
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio qualities come with each specific room you walk into. Your hearing aids can handle 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 almost any environment.
Hearing aid manufacturers and scientists are continuously developing new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the tip of the iceberg.
How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has sort of become something of a buzzword. Everybody’s heard it, which is okay, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So with regard to the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
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, such as deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. In the future, AI may be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
As the technology expands and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, unlike other industries. These machine learning algorithms offer some considerable benefits to patients. Among those advantages are the following:
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this often means hearing better more often.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you actually want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- Social engagement: In terms of dealing with social interaction, individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some research. This is most likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of environments. Having said that, it’s not completely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life healthy. Likely, it simply helps people who are already social better maintain their relationships.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a fall, 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 interpret.
What this means for patients
For people with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often become real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. This isn’t helpful because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while dulling unwanted noise.
AI will create a location-by-location algorithm to address the various kinds of sounds it detects. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate these programs. In order to better identify 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:
- You will have improved quality of life.
- The cognitive burden will be decreased.
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI was not offered in most hearing aids due to the costs involved. An algorithm is, after all, a complex math equation. However, partially because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are starting to go down.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still might wind up choosing a model that doesn’t include AI capabilities. Obviously, patients will still need to make important decisions. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more readily available.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be too much for somebody who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in scenarios with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a huge difference.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. AI-powered hearing aids reduce the listener’s exhaustion and make social situations more enjoyable. When the doorbell rings, or when you have a fall AI technology can alert you or a loved one and it can even track your steps. As technology and AI improve, hearing aids will continue to as well.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can work for you? Call us to schedule an appointment!