Technology is evolving into stronger, smarter, and smaller devices. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices have more features and take up less space.
Hearing aids are no exception, and it’s not a surprise. Though hearing issues have a number of causes, hearing problems are more prevalent among older individuals, and the world’s population is aging. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe having difficulty hearing, and since age is a better 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 manage hearing impairment? Bring ‘em on! Here are some of the advancements that are in the works.
Whole-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This one seems like it should be obvious. Health and fitness trackers 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 latest hearing aids, which in addition to helping correct for hearing difficulties such as tinnitus, will also keep track of your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Sure, a wearable like an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can provide you with other kinds of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend in active conversation or listening. How much social involvement you get can actually be an essential health metric, especially as you age.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have smoothly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the principal focus here is connectivity. Audio from a device, such as a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth compatible. Android developers now have open-source specifications provided by Google which lets them use certain Bluetooth channels to stream uninterrupted audio directly to your hearing aid. This technology is making things like music and movies more satisfying by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
Similar to how Netflix recommends shows and movies based on what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit buzzes to let you know you’ve reached a milestone (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how committed your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid may make personalized recommendations. The places you go and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being manufactured by several brands, to learn your habits. Some go as far as to crowdsource data about people’s utilization habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be able to use this information to identify what your situation is and make adjustments to give you the most enjoyable audio experience.
Finally Losing The Batteries
Ya, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? It can be very inconvenient making sure you have spare batteries or that your hearing aids are completely charged. While we’re not likely to see hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a constant improvement in rechargeable technology. That means longer time in use, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, all in all, not too bad.