Hearing Health Blog

Woman wearing hearing aids climbing hill with family and laughing at a joke.

When was the last time you utilized that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t have one? Because that technology is centuries old. Okay, I suppose that seems logical. Ear trumpets are a bit… archaic.

The basic shape of the modern hearing aid was developed in the 1950s. And for some reason, that’s the hearing aid which has become established in our collective consciousness. But visualizing a hearing aid like this isn’t accurate because those old hearing aids are antiquated technology. To understand just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unshackle our imaginations.

Hearing Aids, Then And Now

It’s worthwhile to have some perspective concerning where hearing aids started so that you can better comprehend how sophisticated they have become. If we trace the history back far enough, you can most likely find some type of hearing assistance device as far back as the 1500s (whether any of them ever actually helped you improve your hearing is still up for debate).

The “ear trumpet” was probably the first marginally useful hearing assistance apparatus. This construct was shaped like, well, a long horn. The wide end pointed out and the narrow end was put into your ear. These, um, devices weren’t really high tech, but they did provide some measurable help.

The real innovation came once electricity was invited to the party. In the 1950s the hearing aid as we know it was created. In order to work properly, they relied on large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a quite basic design. But these devices signify the beginning of a hearing aid that could easily be worn and concealed. The hearing aids of the 1950s may have appeared similar to modern hearing aids but the technology and functionality is worlds apart.

Hearing Aid’s Modern Capabilities

Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it plainly. And they keep getting better. Since the later years of the twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been using digital technologies in some powerful ways. The first, and the most important way, is straight forward: power. Modern hearing aids can pack significantly more power into a much smaller space than their earlier predecessors.

And a number of innovative developments come with increased power:

  • Bluetooth connectivity: Modern hearing aids can now communicate with all of your Bluetooth devices. You will utilize this feature on a daily basis. Old style hearing aids, for example, would have aggravating feedback when you would try to talk on the phone. When you connect to your phone using Bluetooth, the transition is simple and communication is easy. This is true for a wide variety of other scenarios regarding electronic devices. This means simple, feedback free connection to your music, TV, etc.
  • Speech recognition: For lots of hearing aid users, the ultimate objective of these devices is to assist in communication. Some hearing aids, then, have built-in speech recognition software developed to isolate and amplify voices mainly–which can be very useful in a wide variety of situations, from a crowded restaurant to an echo-y meeting room.
  • Health monitoring: Contemporary hearing aids are also capable of incorporating sophisticated health monitoring software into their settings. For instance, some hearing aids can detect when you’ve fallen. There are others that can notify you about your fitness goals like how many steps that you have taken.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids are typically constructed out of advanced materials, so they feel more comfortable. These new materials enable hearing aids to be lighter and more heavy-duty at the same time. It’s easy to see how hearing aids have advanced on the outside as well as the inside by adding long lasting and rechargeable batteries.
  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss does not occur across all frequencies and wavelengths uniformly. Maybe you have a more difficult time hearing high-frequency sounds (or vice versa). Contemporary hearing aids are far more efficient because they can amplify only the frequencies you have a hard time hearing.

Just as rotary phones no longer represent long-distance communication, the hearing aids of old no longer capture what these devices are. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And that’s a positive thing–because now they’re even better.

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