Technology is evolving into stronger, smarter, and smaller devices. In general, the trend is that devices have more features and take up less space.
This is also true for hearing aids, and it’s not a surprise. Though hearing issues have many different causes, hearing issues are more prevalent among older people, and the world’s population is aging. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 37.5 million individuals and 3 million Canadians describe having trouble hearing, and since age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number is likely to increase.
If you’re dealing with hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Are there any better ways to deal with hearing impairment? Bring ‘em on! Innovations are happening, here are some.
Whole-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This is so intuitive, 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 close to the body. So, if you’ve already got a device that’s in your ear… do you actually need a separate one on your wrist? Nope! Or at least, you don’t with some of the newest hearing aids, which in addition to helping fix hearing difficulties like tinnitus, will also keep track of your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Sure, a wearable such as an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can give you other types of input that can be helpful to monitoring health, like how much time you spend in active conversation or listening. Especially as you age your level of social involvement can actually be an important health metric.
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the primary emphasis here is connectivity. Some hearing aids that have 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 standards for Android developers that show them how to use certain channels within Bluetooth to provide uninterrupted audio straight to hearing aids. This technology is making things like movies and music more satisfying by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Your next hearing aid could make personalized suggestions much like how a Fitbit informs you of fitness goals or how Netflix suggests your next movie based on your viewing trend. The places you visit and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being manufactured by several brands, to learn your behaviors. Some go as far as to crowdsource information about people’s utilization habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. All this information allows the hearing aids to ascertain your preferences and make adjustments on the fly so that if you’re watching TV at home or you’re at an IMAX theater (for example), you’ll get the best sound.
Eliminating The Batteries For Good
Hearing aids that don’t require their batteries replaced? Sound too good to be true? After all, making sure you’ve got spare batteries with you, or even taking time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be a pain in the, um, ear. While we’re not likely to get hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a continuous improvement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get quicker charging time, longer use time, and worry less about batteries, which seems pretty good.