Technology is evolving into stronger, smarter, and smaller devices. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
So it’s no surprise that hearing aids are no different. Though hearing issues have a variety of causes, hearing difficulties are more common amongst older people, and the world’s population is aging. Around 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians report some amount of hearing impairment according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is going up since age is the strongest demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Of course, if you’re dealing with hearing loss, even one individual with trouble hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Innovations are happening, here are some.
Complete-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This is so intuitive, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” innovations. 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? Nope! If you have the latest hearing aid, it can most likely keep track of your pulse, physical activity along with correcting hearing problems such as tinnitus. Hearing aids also have the ability to monitor things that other wearables usually don’t, like the duration of conversations. How much social engagement you get can actually be a vital health metric, particularly as you get older.
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have smoothly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the main emphasis here is connectivity. Some hearing aids that offer Bluetooth capabilities now allow users to stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for instance, to the hearing aids. Android developers now have open-source specifications supplied by Google which allows them to use certain Bluetooth channels to stream continuous audio straight to your hearing aid. This type 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
Similar to how Netflix suggests shows and movies based on what you’ve watched previously, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a milestone (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how driven your everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid might 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 information about people’s utilization habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. All this information enables the hearing aids to determine your preferences 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 possible sound.
Getting Rid of The Batteries For Good
Hearing aids that don’t need their batteries replaced? Sound too good to be true? It can be very inconvenient making sure you have extra batteries or that your hearing aids are completely charged. While we’re not likely to get hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a consistent improvement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get faster charging time, longer use time, and less worry about batteries, which seems pretty good.