Technology is evolving into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. Being smaller while doing more is the overall trend.
So it’s not surprising that hearing aids are no exception. Though hearing problems have a number of causes, hearing difficulties are more common amongst older people, and the world’s population is getting older. Around 37.5 million adults and 3 million Canadians report some level of hearing impairment according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is increasing because age is the strongest demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Better ways to minimize hearing loss? Let’s have them! Innovations are happening, here are a few.
Complete-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This is so obvious, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” innovations. Devices that provide different types of health tracking are almost always worn and need to be worn on the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? Nope! Or at least, you don’t with some of the newest hearing aids, which along with helping correct for hearing difficulties like tinnitus, will also keep track of your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Hearing aids also have the ability to track things that other wearables normally don’t, like the duration of conversations. How much social involvement you get can actually be an important health metric, particularly as you get older.
Connectivity is the important watchword, as virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa have moved from smartphones to in-home devices seamlessly. Some hearing aids that provide Bluetooth capabilities now let users stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for instance, to the hearing aids. Google published open-source specifications for Android developers that show them how to use specific channels within Bluetooth to provide uninterrupted audio straight to hearing aids. This type of technology is helping hearing aids work almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy music, movies, and more.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Similar to how Netflix suggests shows and movies according to what you’ve watched previously, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how committed your everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid could make personalized recommendations. The places you go and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being developed by several companies, to learn your habits. Some push it even further, crowdsourcing data on how individuals use their hearing aids anonymizing and then aggregating the data. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be capable of using this information to identify what your situation is and make adjustments to give you the best audio experience.
Finally Ditching The Batteries
Hearing aids that don’t need their batteries replaced? Sound too good to be true? It can be very inconvenient making certain you have extra batteries or that your hearing aids are fully charged. While we’re not likely to see hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a continuous improvement in rechargeable technology. That means longer time in use, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, all in all, not too shabby.