It seems like all our devices are getting stronger, smarter, and more compact. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
So it’s not surprising that hearing aids are no different. Though hearing issues have many different causes, hearing problems are more common amongst older people, and the world’s population is aging. Around 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe some level of hearing impairment according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is rising since age is the strongest demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing impairment? Let’s have them! Here are some of the innovations that are in the works.
Whole-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? The answer is no. Or at least, you don’t with some of the newest hearing aids, which in addition to helping correct for hearing difficulties like tinnitus, will also track your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Certainly, a wearable like an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can give you other types of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend having conversations or listening. How much social involvement you get can actually be an essential health metric, particularly as you age.
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have smoothly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the principal emphasis here is connectivity. Some hearing aids that provide Bluetooth capabilities now let users stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for example, to the hearing aids. Android developers now have open-source specifications provided by Google which lets them use specific Bluetooth channels to stream uninterrupted audio straight to your hearing aid. This kind of technology is helping hearing aids function almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy music, movies, and more.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
In a similar way to how Netflix recommends shows and movies according to what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit buzzes to let you know you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how ambitious your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid may make personalized recommendations. The places you go and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being manufactured by several brands, to learn your habits. Some go as far as to crowdsource data about people’s usage habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. All this information allows the hearing aids to figure out your preferences and make adjustments on the fly so that if you’re watching TV at home or you’re at an IMAX theater (for example), you’ll get the best possible sound.
Eliminating The Batteries Once And For All
Hearing aids that don’t require their batteries changed? Sound too good to be true? After all, making sure you’ve got spare batteries on hand, or even making time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be annoying. While a hearing aid that doesn’t take any batteries at all might seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology continues to improve. You’ll get quicker charging time, longer use time, and less worry about batteries, which seems pretty good.