You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get accustomed to. With regard to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely raise the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that uses data inputs to produce new results. In doing this, AI algorithms engage in a kind of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every specific result because the algorithm does that by itself.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make adjustments depending on your routines and your requirements. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear because of this.
How can you hear better with AI?
At first, this might seem a bit abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can adding AI to the situation improve things? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with switches and knobs. (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Better audio quality can be achieved by adjusting these settings. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing how you hear without any work by you.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to emulate human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time situations because of this.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services suggest movies based on your viewing history, though it probably sounds like space-aged technology at first. AI is also encountered 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 correct decisions.
New advances in AI hearing aids
Presently, hearing aids are integrating several brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were certainly tougher during the pandemic when everyone was wearing a facemask. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping those with hearing aids hear better and remain safe at the same time.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own distinct 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 nearly any environment.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Basically, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. When this is triggered AI will begin working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a variety of loud or echo-prone settings. Cross talk, for instance, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But even in a noisy setting, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
This is most likely only the start of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for 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 cause confusion. So in terms of the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
Making hearing aids even more beneficial 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 it isn’t just hearing aids. In the future, AI might be able to help with diagnosing 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 dependable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being integrated into hearing aids simply because it’s the hot new thing. These machine learning algorithms offer some significant benefits to patients. Among those benefits are the following:
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you will hear is the sound you really want to hear.
- Social engagement: Studies have found that those who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful in terms of dealing with their social involvement. This is most likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of environments. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It most likely just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn off those algorithms. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this normally means a better all-around hearing experience.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be capable of detecting the significance and seriousness of your tumble. In some situations, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a major fall. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health information easier to understand.
What this means for patients
For individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently become real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while dulling unwanted noise.
AI learns to recognize sounds and creates a location-by-location algorithm. 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 identify and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- Your brain will have a reduced cognitive burden.
- You will have improved quality of life.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite friends, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t available in the majority of hearing aids until recently. An algorithm is, after all, an intricate math equation. However, in part because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are beginning to go down.
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 include AI functionality. Obviously, patients will still need to make important decisions. But AI functions are becoming more widely available and common.
Figuring out what choice is best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the extra cost. But AI makes a huge difference for individuals who are socially involved and go out into noisy situations a lot.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. AI-powered hearing aids reduce the listener’s fatigue and make social situations more enjoyable. 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.