It seems as if all our devices are getting smarter, stronger, and smaller. Being smaller while doing more is the overall trend.
This is also true for hearing aids, and it’s not a surprise. Though hearing problems have a variety of causes, hearing difficulties are more common among older individuals, and the world’s population is getting older. Around 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe some amount of hearing loss according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is rising as age is the best demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Naturally, if you’re dealing with hearing loss, even one individual with difficulty hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Are there any better ways to deal with hearing impairment? Let’s have them! Here are some of the innovations that are happening.
Complete-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This is so obvious, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” innovations. Devices that provide different types of health tracking are nearly always worn and need to be worn close to the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? Nope! Or at least, you don’t with some of the latest hearing aids, which along with helping correct for hearing difficulties like tinnitus, will also keep track of your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Sure, a wearable such as an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can give you other types of input that can be helpful to monitoring health, like how much time you spend having conversations or listening. How much social involvement you get can actually be an important health metric, especially as you get older.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Connectivity is the major watchword, as virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa have moved from smartphones to in-home devices seamlessly. Some hearing aids that have Bluetooth capabilities now let users stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for example, to the hearing aids. Android developers now have open-source specifications provided by Google which allows them to use specific Bluetooth channels to stream continuous audio directly to your hearing aid. This technology is making things like music and movies more satisfying by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Similar to how Netflix suggests shows and movies based on what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit buzzes to let you know you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how driven your everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid might make personalized suggestions. The places you visit and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being developed by several companies, to learn your behaviors. Some go as far as to crowdsource data about people’s utilization habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be capable of using this information to identify what your situation is and make adjustments to give you the best audio experience.
Finally Ditching The Batteries
Ya, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? After all, making sure you’ve got spare batteries with you, or even making 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 continues to improve. You’ll get quicker charging time, extended use time, and worry less about batteries, which seems pretty good.