You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than fiction. This is especially true with regard to hearing aids. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely increase the volume of sounds around you. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids use AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a form of technology that uses sophisticated algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. AI is capable of using an algorithm to participate in a kind of learning called “machine learning”. As soon as the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each individual result.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal requirements depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear because of this.
How does AI help hearing aids work better?
This might seem a little abstract initially. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can adding AI to the mix improve things? Well, you know that row of big dials and buttons that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better audio quality can be obtained by altering these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without requiring you to do anything.
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 allows streaming services to recommend movies based on your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like space-aged technology initially. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email provider uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. These devices become more adept at making correct decisions the more you use them.
New advancements in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has lots of echoes, or is excessively loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. Cross talk, for example, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But even in a noisy 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. Basically, you can initiate something called edge mode whenever you’re having a tough time hearing. When this is initiated AI will begin working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but definitely made conversations with a hearing aid more difficult. You can stay safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio qualities come with each specific room you walk into. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic corrections that let you hear better in almost any environment.
This is probably only the start of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the field of audiology
These days, AI has kind of become a bit of a buzzword. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can in some cases cause confusion. So in terms of the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
Making hearing aids even more helpful for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are tackling. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But it isn’t just hearing aids. In the future, AI might be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, unlike other industries. Some significant benefits to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Here are some of those benefits:
- Social engagement: Studies have shown that individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to managing their social engagement. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a wider variety of environments. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Most likely, it simply helps those who are already social better manage their relationships.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be able to detect the significance and severity of your tumble. In the event of a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, alert the Authorities. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from lots of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a range of other devices. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn off those algorithms. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally means a better overall hearing experience.
How does this impact patients?
These benefits frequently lead to real-world advantages for those who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. If you had an older-style hearing aid, it would just boost the volume up. This isn’t helpful because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while dulling unwanted noise.
AI will create a location-by-location program to address the various types of sounds it picks up. These algorithms help when you go back to a specific location or sound profile. In order to better identify and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with everyday sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- Your quality of life will get better.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
- Your brain will have a reduced cognitive load.
In other words, it’ll be easier to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite friends, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t offered in most hearing aids until recently. After all, the device itself has to perform some intense calculations (an algorithm, after all, is basically a very fancy math problem). But prices are decreasing, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
That isn’t saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still may end up wanting a model that doesn’t include AI functionality. Obviously, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI features are becoming more readily available and common.
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 extra cost. 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 useful for someone who is quickly worn out in social scenarios where the chore of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less exhausted with AI hearing aids. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. As technology and AI develop, hearing aids will continue to as well.
How can AI technology help you? Contact us to set up an appointment!