When someone talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it might 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 especially true. The days when hearing aids simply boosted the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. 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 produce new results. In this way, AI algorithms engage in a type of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. As soon as the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each separate result.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal needs based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree 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?
At first, this might seem a bit abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard full of switches and knobs. (You’ve probably seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Altering these settings can produce better quality sound. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without needing you to do anything.
These smart devices use a deep neural network to emulate human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time situations because of this.
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 use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier utilizes it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you use these devices, the more reliable they become at making proper decisions.
AI hearing aids – new advances
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own distinctive acoustic properties. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. You will hear better in just about any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone settings. A hearing aid can have a difficult time with cross-talk, for example. But with an AI filtering out non-imperative information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy environment.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Basically, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. This then triggers the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were certainly more difficult during the pandemic when everyone was wearing a facemask. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping those with hearing aids hear better and remain safe simultaneously.
This is likely only the beginning of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the field of audiology
These days, AI has sort of become something of a buzzword. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can sometimes result in confusion. So when it comes to the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
Making hearing aids even more useful for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are tackling. New technologies, such as machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But it’s not just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will likely do in the future.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids just because it’s the popular new thing. These machine learning algorithms offer some considerable benefits to patients. Among those benefits are the following:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can detect the severity of your fall. In some situations, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a severe fall. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you will 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 those algorithms on or off. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually translates into hearing better more frequently.
- Social engagement: With regard to managing social interaction, people who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some research. This is likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a wider variety of settings. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It probably just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
What this means for patients
These benefits frequently become real-world advantages for those who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. This isn’t useful because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while dulling undesired noise.
AI will generate a location-by-location algorithm to deal with the various types of sounds it detects. These programs help when you go back to a specific location or sound profile. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with everyday sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- The cognitive burden will be decreased.
- You will feel less aggravated because you will be able to hear better.
- Your quality of life will get better.
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI was not offered in most hearing aids because of the costs involved. After all, the device itself has to do some extreme calculations (an algorithm, of course, is basically a very elegant math problem). However, partially because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are beginning to go down.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still may end up choosing a model that doesn’t include AI functionality. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more widely available.
Figuring out what choice is best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the additional cost. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in situations with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. AI-powered hearing aids decrease the listener’s fatigue 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. As technology and AI improve, hearing aids will continue to too.
How can AI technology help you? Call us to set up an appointment!