When someone talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it may arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all better get used to. With regard to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone is the time 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 type of technology that utilizes sophisticated algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. AI is capable of using an algorithm to engage in a kind of learning called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every specific result because the algorithm does that on its own.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal needs based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear because of this.
How can you hear better with AI?
Initially, this might seem a bit abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with switches and dials. (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better quality of sound 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.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a deep neural network. As a result of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to conditions without being programmed to deal with them.
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. Newer cars utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier utilizes it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you utilize these devices, the more efficient they become at making proper decisions.
New advancements in AI hearing aids
These days, hearing aids are integrating multiple brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Here are some of the best examples:
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own distinct acoustic properties. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it doesn’t do so well with. You will hear better in nearly any setting with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has a lot of echoes, or is overly loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. A hearing aid can have a difficult time with cross-talk, for example. But even in a loud setting, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Essentially, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. This then triggers the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were definitely tougher during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. You can stay safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
Hearing aid producers and scientists are continuously developing new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the beginning.
AI for the discipline of audiology
These days, AI has sort of become a bit of a buzzword. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can sometimes lead to confusion. So when it comes to the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
First off, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more helpful to patients. This research includes new technologies, including deep neural networks and machine learning. But it isn’t just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will most likely do in the future.
As the technology develops and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
In contrast to some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids simply because it’s the popular new fad. These machine learning algorithms offer some significant advantages to patients. Here are a few of those benefits:
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array 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 actually want to hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be capable of detecting the significance and severity of your tumble. In some situations, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a major fall. AI can also make your health data easier to understand, helping you identify when you should be moving more, eating better, or just hydrating more.
- Social engagement: Studies have revealed that individuals who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to managing their social involvement. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of settings. With that being said, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life afloat. It probably just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally means hearing better more often.
How does this affect patients?
These benefits often result in real-world advantages for individuals who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just boost the volume up. This isn’t useful because the conversation you actually care about will get overpowered 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 learns to recognize sounds and generates a location-by-location program. If you return to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate these algorithms. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with everyday sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You will have improved quality of life.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- The cognitive load will be reduced.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to follow along with your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI wasn’t available in the vast majority of hearing aids due to the costs involved. An algorithm is, after all, a complex math equation. But prices are decreasing, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still might end up choosing a model that doesn’t have AI functionality. Clearly, patients will still need to make important decisions. But AI features are becoming more widely available and prevalent.
Figuring out what choice is 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 individuals who are socially involved and go out into loud situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also practical for someone who is quickly worn out in social scenarios where the task of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. AI-powered hearing aids decrease the listener’s fatigue 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.
How can AI technology help you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.