Technology is evolving into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices have more features and take up less space.
So it’s no surprise that hearing aids are no exception. The world’s population is getting older and hearing problems, though they can have many different causes, are more common among older people. Around 37.5 million adults and 3 million Canadians describe some level of hearing loss according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is going up as age is the best demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Of course, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, even one person with difficulty hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing loss? Let’s have them! Innovations are happening, here are some.
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” innovations. Health and fitness trackers have to be worn on 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 in addition to helping correct for hearing difficulties like tinnitus, will also track your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Certainly, a wearable such as an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can provide you with other kinds of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend in active conversation or listening. How much social involvement you get can actually be a vital health metric, particularly as you get older.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have smoothly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the main focus here is connectivity. Some hearing aids that provide Bluetooth capabilities now allow users to stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for example, to the hearing aids. Google published open-source standards for Android developers that show them how to use certain channels within Bluetooth to provide 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.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Similar to how Netflix recommends shows and movies based on what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a milestone (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 brands, to learn your habits. Some go as far as to crowdsource information about people’s usage 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 able to use this information to recognize what your situation is and make adjustments to provide you with the best audio experience.
Eliminating The Batteries For Good
Hearing aids that don’t need their batteries changed? Sound too good to be true? It can be very inconvenient making certain you have spare batteries or that your hearing aids are fully charged. While we’re not likely to get hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a constant improvement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get quicker charging time, longer use time, and less worry about batteries, which seems pretty good.