When somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it may conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But nowadays, AI is more science than fiction. When it comes to hearing aids, this is especially true. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just raise the volume of sounds around you. Modern, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a form of technology that makes use of sophisticated algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. In this way, AI algorithms engage in a kind of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. Once the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each separate result.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make modifications depending on your routines and your requirements. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear as a result.
How can you hear better with AI?
At first, this might seem a bit abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can adding AI to the situation improve things? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard full of switches and dials. (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid contains one of those! (It’s tiny.) Altering these settings can deliver better quality sound. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing how you hear without any hassle on your part.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a rich neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time conditions because of this.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services recommend movies based on your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like space-aged technology initially. AI is also encountered in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you utilize these devices, the more reliable they become at making correct decisions.
AI hearing aids – new advances
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Basically, you can initiate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a difficult time hearing. This then triggers the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but certainly made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping those with hearing aids hear better and stay safe simultaneously.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has a lot of echoes, or is overly loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. Cross talk, for example, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But even in a noisy setting, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the person across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio properties come with each individual room you walk into. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic adjustments that allow you to hear better in nearly any setting.
Hearing aid producers and scientists are constantly developing new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the beginning.
How is AI employed in the field of audiology?
These days, AI has sort of become something of a buzzword. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can in some cases lead to confusion. So in terms of the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
First off, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more useful to patients. New technologies, including machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But it’s not just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will probably do in the future.
As the technology grows and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, unlike other industries. These machine learning algorithms provide some significant benefits to patients. Here are a few of those benefits:
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally means a better all-around hearing experience.
- Social engagement: In terms of managing social interaction, people who use AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some studies. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which most likely accounts for better social interaction. With that being said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life healthy. Most likely, it simply helps people who are already social better maintain their relationships.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be able to detect the significance and severity of your tumble. In some situations, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a major fall. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health data easier to understand.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you will hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
How does this impact patients?
These benefits often result in real-world advantages for individuals who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will create a location-by-location program to deal with the various kinds of sounds it detects. If you go back to a specific location or sound profile, AI can activate these programs. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- You will have improved quality of life.
- The cognitive burden will be decreased.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids until recent times. An algorithm is, after all, an intricate math equation. But prices are coming down, partially due to the prevalence of the technology.
That isn’t saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still may end up wanting a model that doesn’t include AI capabilities. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI features are becoming more widely obtainable and prevalent.
Figuring out what option is best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the additional cost. But AI makes a huge difference for individuals who are socially involved and go out into noisy situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also helpful for somebody who is quickly worn out in social situations where the task of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. Social situations are simpler and the user will feel less tired 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. As technology and AI develop, hearing aids will continue to too.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can work for you? Make an appointment with us right away.