Technology is developing into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. In general, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
So it’s no surprise that hearing aids are no different. Though hearing problems have many different causes, hearing issues are more common amongst older people, and the world’s population is getting older. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians report having difficulty hearing, and since age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number will probably go up.
Of course, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, even one individual with trouble hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Here are some of the advancements that are in the works.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Entire Body
This is so obvious, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” developments. Devices that offer different types of health tracking are nearly always worn and have to be worn on the body. So, if you’ve already got a device that’s in your ear… do you really need a separate one on your wrist? Nope! Or at least, you don’t with some of the latest hearing aids, which along with helping correct for hearing difficulties such as tinnitus, will also track your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Hearing aids also have the ability to track things that other wearables normally don’t, like the time spent conversing. Especially as you age your level of social involvement can actually be an important health metric.
Connectivity is the major watchword, as virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa have moved from smartphones to in-home devices without missing a beat. Audio from a device, like a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth compatible. Google published open-source specifications for Android developers that show them how to use certain channels within Bluetooth to produce uninterrupted audio straight to hearing aids. This type of technology is helping hearing aids work almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy movies, music, and more.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
Your next hearing aid may make individualized recommendations much like how a Fitbit informs you of fitness goals or how Netflix suggests your next movie in line with your viewing trend. The places you visit and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being developed by a few companies, to learn your habits. Some take it one step further, crowdsourcing data on how people use their hearing aids anonymizing and then mixing the data. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be able to use this information to know what your situation is and make adjustments to provide you with the most enjoyable audio experience.
Finally Ditching The Batteries
Hearing aids that don’t need their batteries replaced? Sound too good to be true? After all, making certain you’ve got spare batteries on hand, or even taking time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be a pain in the, um, ear. While a hearing aid that doesn’t take any batteries at all might seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology keeps improving. You’ll get faster charging time, longer use time, and worry less about batteries, which seems pretty good.