You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all better get used to. When it comes to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely increase the volume of sounds around you. Contemporary, high-end hearing aids use AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that uses data inputs to generate new results. In doing this, AI algorithms participate in a type of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. Once the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each individual result.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make modifications depending on your routines and your needs. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How does AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
Initially, this could seem a bit abstract. After all, hearing aids seem to have a fairly basic function. How can adding AI to the mix improve things? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with buttons and knobs. (You’ve probably seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s tiny.) Altering these settings can provide better quality sound. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without needing you to do anything.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to imitate human brain responses. As a result of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to situations without being programmed to deal with them.
This might sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to recommend programming based on your viewing history. 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 expert at making correct choices the more you use them.
New advancements in AI hearing aids
These days, hearing aids are incorporating multiple brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the most relevant instances include the following:
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own distinctive acoustic properties. Some of those qualities are good for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. You will hear better in just about any setting with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Essentially, you can initiate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a difficult time hearing. When this is triggered AI will begin working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were definitely more difficult during the pandemic when everyone was wearing a facemask. You can remain safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
- 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 example, can often be hard on a hearing aid. 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 packed or noisy environment.
This is probably only the start of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the discipline of audiology
These days, AI has sort of become something of a buzzword. Everyone’s heard it, which is good, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So in terms of the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
First, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more beneficial to patients. New technologies, like machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of this research. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. In the future, AI may be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
As the technology develops and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
Unlike some other industries, AI is not being incorporated into hearing aids simply because it’s the hot new fad. Some considerable benefits to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Among those benefits are the following:
- Social engagement: Studies have shown that individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful when it comes to dealing with their social involvement. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a wider variety of environments. That said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life afloat. Likely, it simply helps people who are already social better preserve their relationships.
- 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 usually means a better overall hearing experience.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be capable of detecting the significance and severity of your tumble. In the event of 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 moving more, eating healthier, or just hydrating more.
- 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 actually want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
How does this impact patients?
For people who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often translate into real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. If you had an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. This isn’t practical because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and respond the way your brain would, lowering background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will create a location-by-location program to address the various types of sounds it detects. 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 brain will have a lower cognitive burden.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
- Your quality of life will get 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 due to the costs involved. An algorithm is, in fact, an intricate math equation. But prices are decreasing, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
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. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more widely available.
Deciding what’s best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the extra cost. But AI makes a huge difference for individuals who are socially active and go out into loud situations a lot.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. AI-powered hearing aids decrease the listener’s exhaustion and make social situations more enjoyable. 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. Hearing aids will keep improving as AI technology improves.
How can AI technology help you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.