You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than just fiction. With regard to hearing aids, this is particularly true. The days when hearing aids simply boosted the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone forever. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a sophisticated computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to generate new results. AI is able to use an algorithm to engage in a type of learning known as “machine learning”. When the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each individual result.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal requirements depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear as a result.
How can you hear better with AI?
This may feel a little abstract at first. After all, hearing aids appear to have a pretty basic function. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard full of buttons 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 obtained by modifying these settings. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing the way you hear without any effort by you.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a rich neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time situations because of this.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services recommend movies according to your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like futuristic technology initially. AI is also encountered in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you utilize these devices, the more efficient they become at making proper decisions.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
These days, hearing aids are incorporating several brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Here are some of the best examples:
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone locations. Cross talk, for instance, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But with an AI filtering out non-imperative information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy setting.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was masking up, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. You can remain safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Basically, you can initiate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a tough time hearing. This then activates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own unique acoustic properties. Some of those properties are good for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. You will hear better in almost any setting with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
This is likely only the start of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the discipline of audiology
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Everyone’s heard it, which is okay, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more useful for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are working on. New technologies, such as machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of this research. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will likely do in the future.
As the technology expands and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, unlike other industries. Some considerable advantages to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Here are some of those benefits:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can determine the severity of your fall. If there is a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, alert the Authorities. AI can also make your health data easier to understand, helping you know when you should be exercising more, eating healthier, or just hydrating more.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this normally means a better overall hearing experience.
- Social engagement: Studies have shown that people who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful in terms of dealing with their social involvement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which most likely accounts for better social interaction. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It probably just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from a wide variety of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a myriad of other devices. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
What this means for patients
For people with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently lead to real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and respond the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will create a location-by-location program to address the various types of sounds it picks up. These programs help when you return to a specific location or sound profile. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with day-to-day sounds.
Here are some other practical benefits to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- The cognitive load will be decreased.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- Your quality of life will improve.
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t available in the majority of hearing aids until recent times. After all, the device itself must perform some extreme calculations (an algorithm, of course, is essentially a very fancy math problem). However, in part because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are starting to go down.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will automatically be less costly in the near future. Obviously, patients will still need to make important choices. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more readily available.
Deciding what’s best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the additional cost. To somebody who is socially active and finds themselves in scenarios with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also helpful for someone who is quickly worn out in social scenarios where the task of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. AI-powered hearing aids reduce the listener’s exhaustion 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. Hearing aids will keep improving as AI technology improves.
How can AI technology help you? Contact us to schedule an appointment!