You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than just fiction. This is especially true with regard to hearing aids. The times when hearing aids simply boosted the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. Modern, high-end hearing aids use AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a type of technology that makes use of sophisticated algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. In this way, AI algorithms take part in a kind of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. When the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each separate result.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make changes depending on your behaviors and your requirements. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can AI help hearing aids work better?
This might seem a little abstract at first. After all, hearing aids appear to have a pretty basic function. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with buttons and knobs. (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Adjusting these settings can produce better quality sound. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without needing you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a deep neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time conditions because of this.
This may sound like space-age science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming based on your viewing history. AI is also encountered in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more proficient at making appropriate decisions the more you use them.
New improvements in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own distinct acoustic properties. Some of those properties are helpful for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. You will hear better in almost any setting with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has lots of echoes, or is overly loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. Cross talk, for example, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But even in a loud setting, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the individual across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were undoubtedly tougher during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. You can remain safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Essentially, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. When this is triggered AI will start working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
Hearing aid makers and scientists are constantly developing new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the tip of the iceberg.
How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has sort of become something of a buzzword. Everybody’s heard it, which is okay, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So when it comes to the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are working on. New technologies, like machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of this research. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. In the future, AI may be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
As the technology expands and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
In contrast to some other industries, AI is not being incorporated into hearing aids simply because it’s the popular new fad. These machine learning algorithms provide some significant advantages to patients. Among those advantages are the following:
- 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 seriousness of your tumble. In some situations, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones in the event of a severe fall. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health information easier to understand.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from a wide variety of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a myriad of other devices. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this normally means hearing better more often.
- Social engagement: Studies have found that people who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful in terms of managing their social involvement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which probably accounts for better social interaction. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It most likely just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
How does this affect patients?
For individuals with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often result in real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just boost the volume up. This isn’t helpful because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while lowering unwanted noise.
AI learns to recognize sounds and generates a location-by-location program. These algorithms help when you go back to a specific location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Here are some other practical benefits to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- The cognitive load will be reduced.
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
- Your quality of life will improve.
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 offered in the majority of hearing aids until recently. After all, the device itself has to perform some extreme calculations (an algorithm, of course, is basically a very fancy math problem). However, partially because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids 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 automatically be less expensive in the near future. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more widely available.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be overkill for someone who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in situations with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. Social situations are simpler and the user will feel less fatigued with AI hearing aids. 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. Hearing aids will continue to improve as AI technology improves.
How can AI technology help you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.