When somebody talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it may conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all better get used to. This is especially true when it comes to hearing aids. The days when hearing aids simply amplified the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone forever. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a form of technology that uses complex algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. In this way, AI algorithms engage in a type of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every individual result because the algorithm does that on its own.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal requirements depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How does AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
This may seem a little abstract initially. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, you know that row of big knobs and switches that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better quality of sound can be obtained by modifying these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without needing you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a rich neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time conditions because of this.
This might sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to recommend programming according to your viewing history. Newer cars utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. These devices become more adept at making appropriate choices the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
Presently, hearing aids are incorporating multiple brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the best examples include the following:
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Essentially, you can initiate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a tough time hearing. When this is triggered AI will begin working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio qualities come with each specific room you walk into. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic corrections that let you hear better in nearly any setting.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but definitely made conversations with a hearing aid more difficult. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping those 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. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for example. But even in a loud environment, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the individual across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
This is likely only the beginning of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Everybody’s heard it, which is okay, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So in terms of the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
First off, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more beneficial to patients. This research includes new technologies, including deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. 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 find AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
In contrast to some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids just because it’s the popular new thing. Some considerable advantages to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Here are a few of those benefits:
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally means a better all-around hearing experience.
- Social engagement: When it comes to dealing with social interaction, individuals who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some research. This is likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a wider variety of environments. That said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life healthy. It most likely just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from a wide variety 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.
- 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 might be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones in the event of a major fall. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
What this means for patients
These benefits often result in real-world advantages for individuals who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. If you had an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, lowering background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will generate a location-by-location program to deal with the various types of sounds it detects. If you return to a specific location or sound profile, AI can initiate these algorithms. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- Your brain will experience a lower cognitive load.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- You will have improved quality of life.
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Reward vs. cost
There was a time when AI was not available in most hearing aids because of the costs involved. An algorithm is, in fact, an intricate math equation. However, partially because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are beginning to go down.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want might have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less pricey in the near future. Clearly, patients will still have to make important choices. But, 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 much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the additional cost. To somebody who is socially active and finds themselves in conditions with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less fatigued with AI hearing aids. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. Hearing aids will continue to improve as AI technology improves.
How can AI technology help you? Call us to make an appointment!