When someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it might conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all better get used to. When it comes to hearing aids, this is particularly true. The days when hearing aids simply amplified the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone forever. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to generate new results. AI is capable of using an algorithm to engage in a type of learning called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every specific result because the algorithm does that on its own.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make adjustments depending on your routines and your needs. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
This might feel a bit abstract initially. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with switches and dials. (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better sound quality can be obtained by adjusting these settings. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, improving the way you hear without any hassle on your part.
These smart devices use a deep neural network to emulate human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time situations because of this.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to suggest movies based on your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like space-aged technology at first. AI is also encountered in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more proficient at making correct choices the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new advances
These days, hearing aids are integrating multiple brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Here are some of the best examples:
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Essentially, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. When this is activated AI will start working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was wearing masks, which was good, but certainly made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. You can remain safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio qualities come with each individual room you go into. Some of those properties are helpful for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effectively make automatic corrections that allow you to hear better in just about any setting.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone settings. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for instance. But even in a noisy environment, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
Hearing aid makers and scientists are constantly innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the tip of the iceberg.
How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Everyone’s heard it, which is good, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more useful for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are tackling. New technologies, like machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of this research. But it isn’t just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will likely do in the future.
As the technology grows and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, in contrast to other industries. These machine learning algorithms provide some significant benefits to patients. Here are some of those benefits:
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this usually translates into hearing better more often.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can determine the severity of your fall. In the event of a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, notify the Authorities. AI can also make your health data easier to understand, helping you identify when you should be exercising more, eating better, or just hydrating more.
- 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 spectrum of settings, which probably accounts for better social engagement. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It probably just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from lots of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a myriad of other devices. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you really want to hear.
How does this impact patients?
These benefits frequently become real-world advantages for people with these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult 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 learns to identify sounds and generates a location-by-location algorithm. These algorithms help when you return to a particular location or sound profile. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with everyday sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- You will have improved quality of life.
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- Your brain will have a reduced cognitive load.
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
There was a time when AI was not available in most hearing aids because of the costs involved. After all, the device itself has to perform some extreme calculations (an algorithm, after all, is essentially a very elegant math problem). However, in part because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are starting to go down.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less costly in the near future. Clearly, patients will still need to make important decisions. But AI functions are becoming more readily available and common.
Deciding what’s best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the extra cost. But AI makes a big difference for individuals who are socially active and go out into loud situations a lot.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. AI-powered hearing aids reduce the listener’s fatigue and make social situations more enjoyable. When the doorbell rings, or when you have a fall AI technology can alert you or a loved one and it can even track your steps. As technology and AI develop, hearing aids will continue to as well.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can work for you? Call us to schedule an appointment!