When someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it may arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all better get used to. With regard to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just raise the volume of sounds around you. Modern, high-end hearing aids use AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a type of technology that makes use of complex algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. In doing this, AI algorithms participate in a type of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every individual result because the algorithm does that by itself.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal needs based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
This might feel a little abstract initially. After all, hearing aids seem to have a pretty basic function. How can adding AI to the situation enhance things? Well, you know that row of big knobs and switches that people use to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve most likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Altering these settings can deliver better quality sound. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without needing you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a rich neural network. Because of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to situations without being programmed to do so.
This may sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming according to your viewing history. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more adept at making correct decisions the more you use them.
New advancements in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Some of the best examples include the following:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but definitely made conversations with a hearing aid more challenging. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping those with hearing aids hear better and remain safe simultaneously.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a variety of loud or echo-prone locations. Cross talk, for instance, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But even in a noisy setting, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Essentially, you can initiate something called edge mode whenever you’re having a tough time hearing. When this is activated AI will start working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own distinctive acoustic properties. Some of those properties are good for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effectively make automatic corrections that let you hear better in almost any environment.
Hearing aid producers and scientists are continuously innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the beginning.
How is AI utilized in the discipline of audiology?
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Everyone’s heard it, which is okay, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So with regard to the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
First off, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more helpful to patients. This research includes new technologies, including deep neural networks and machine learning. 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 probably do in the future.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, unlike other industries. Some considerable benefits to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Among those benefits are the following:
- Social engagement: In terms of dealing with social interaction, people who use AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some studies. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which likely accounts for better social engagement. 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 those who are already social better maintain their relationships.
- 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 range of other devices. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you really want to hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn off those algorithms. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this usually translates into hearing better more often.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be capable of detecting the significance and seriousness of your tumble. If there is a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, notify the Authorities. AI can also make your health data easier to understand, helping you know when you should be moving more, eating healthier, or just hydrating more.
What this means for patients
For individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently become real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. If you had an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and respond the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will generate a location-by-location algorithm to address the various types of sounds it detects. These programs help when you return to a particular location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with day-to-day 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 will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- Your quality of life will get better.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite friends, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t offered in most hearing aids until recently. After all, the device itself must perform some extreme calculations (an algorithm, after all, is basically a very fancy math problem). But prices are coming down, partially due to the prevalence of the technology.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will automatically be less pricey in the near future. Obviously, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI features are becoming more readily obtainable and common.
Figuring out what choice is best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be overkill for someone who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. But AI makes a huge difference for people who are socially active and go out into noisy situations a lot.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. AI-powered hearing aids decrease the listener’s exhaustion and make social situations more enjoyable. 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 find out how AI hearing aids can help you? Make an appointment with us right away.