You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all better get accustomed to. This is particularly true with regard to hearing aids. Gone are the days 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 makes use of sophisticated algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. AI is capable of using an algorithm to engage in a kind of learning known as “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every specific result because the algorithm does that on its own.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal requirements based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear as a result.
How can AI help hearing aids work better?
At first, this could seem a bit abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with buttons and knobs. (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Altering these settings can provide better sound quality. 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 deep neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time situations because of this.
This may sound like space-age science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to recommend programming according to your viewing history. AI is also encountered in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you make use of these devices, the more reliable they become at making correct decisions.
New advancements in AI hearing aids
Presently, hearing aids are incorporating several brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own unique acoustic characteristics. Some of those properties are helpful for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. You will hear better in just about any environment with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Essentially, you can activate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a tough time hearing. This then initiates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were definitely harder during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping individuals with hearing aids hear better and remain safe simultaneously.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has lots of echoes, or is extremely loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. Cross talk, for example, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But even in a loud environment, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
This is most likely only the beginning of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the discipline of audiology
These days, AI has sort of become a bit of a buzzword. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can occasionally lead to confusion. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
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, such as deep neural networks and machine learning. But it isn’t just hearing aids. In the future, AI may be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
As the technology expands and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
In contrast to some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids simply because it’s the hot new fad. These machine learning algorithms provide some significant benefits to patients. Among those advantages are the following:
- Social engagement: Studies have revealed that those who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to dealing with their social involvement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which likely accounts for better social interaction. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Most likely, it simply helps people who are already social better preserve their relationships.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from lots 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.
- 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 cases, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones in the event of a major fall. AI can also make your health information easier to understand, helping you know when you should be moving more, eating healthier, or just hydrating more.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this normally means hearing better more frequently.
What this means for patients
These benefits often lead to real-world advantages for people with these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while dulling undesired noise.
AI will generate a location-by-location program to address the various types of sounds it picks up. These algorithms help when you go back to a particular location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You will have improved quality of life.
- Your brain will experience a reduced cognitive load.
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to follow along with your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite friends, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI wasn’t offered in the vast majority of hearing aids owing to the costs involved. After all, the device itself must do some intense calculations (an algorithm, of course, is essentially a very elegant math problem). However, in part because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices 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 pricey in the near future. Obviously, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI functions are becoming more readily obtainable and common.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be too much for somebody who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. To someone who is socially active and finds themselves in situations with many competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also practical for someone who is rapidly worn out in social situations where the chore of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less exhausted with AI hearing aids. When the doorbell rings, or when you have a fall AI technology can alert you or a loved one and it can even track your steps. As technology and AI improve, hearing aids will continue to as well.
Want to find out how AI hearing aids can help you? Make an appointment with us right away.