Technology is evolving into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. Being smaller while having more functionality is the general trend.
Hearing aids are no exception, and it’s not surprising. Though hearing problems have a number of causes, hearing difficulties are more common among older people, and the world’s population is getting older. About 37.5 million adults and 3 million Canadians report some amount of hearing loss according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is going up because age is the best 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 deal with hearing impairment? Let’s have them! Here are some of the advancements that are in the works.
Complete-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This one seems like it should be obvious. Devices that provide different kinds of health tracking are nearly always worn and need 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! Or at least, you don’t with some of the latest hearing aids, which in addition to helping correct for hearing difficulties like tinnitus, will also keep track of your pulse, your physical activity, and a whole lot more. Hearing aids can also track things that other wearables normally don’t, like the duration of conversations. Especially as you get older, your level of social engagement can actually be a key health metric.
Connectivity is the important watchword, as virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa have moved from smartphones to in-home devices without missing a beat. Audio from a device, such as a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth capable. Android developers now have open-source specs provided by Google which lets them use specific Bluetooth channels to stream continuous audio directly to your hearing aid. This technology is making things like movies and music more enjoyable by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
Your next hearing aid could make individualized recommendations much like how a Fitbit informs you of fitness goals or how Netflix recommends your next movie based on your viewing trend. The places you visit and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being manufactured by a few brands, to learn your habits. Some take it one step further, crowdsourcing information on how people use their hearing aids anonymizing and then mixing the data. All this info enables the hearing aids to figure out your tendencies and make adjustments on the fly so that if you’re at home watching TV or you’re at an IMAX theater (for instance), you’ll get the best possible sound.
Eliminating The Batteries For Good
Ya, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t require batteries? After all, making certain you’ve got spare batteries on hand, or even taking time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be a pain in the, um, ear. While we’re not likely to get hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a constant advancement in rechargeable technology. That means longer in-use time, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, overall, not too bad.