You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than fiction. This is especially true when it comes to hearing aids. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely increase the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a sophisticated computer algorithm that uses data inputs to produce new results. In this way, AI algorithms engage in a kind of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. When the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each separate result.
Depending on the amount of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make modifications depending on your routines and your needs. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear as a result.
How does AI help hearing aids work better?
Initially, this might seem a bit abstract. After all, hearing aids seem to have a fairly basic function. How can adding AI to the situation enhance things? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard full of switches and dials. (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Altering these settings can produce better sound quality. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, improving how you hear without any hassle on your part.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a rich neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time conditions because of this.
This may sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming based on your viewing history. Newer cars utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier utilizes it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you use these devices, the more reliable they become at making proper decisions.
New improvements in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Some of the most relevant examples include the following:
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio properties come with each specific room you walk into. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. You will hear better in just about any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Basically, you can initiate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a hard time hearing. When this is activated AI will start working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but certainly made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. You can stay safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a setting that has lots of echoes, or is extremely loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. A hearing aid can have a difficult time with cross-talk, for instance. But even in a noisy environment, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the individual across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
Hearing aid makers and scientists are constantly developing new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the beginning.
How is AI utilized in the field of audiology?
These days, AI has kind of become something of a buzzword. Depending on the context, AI does different things, which can occasionally cause confusion. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more useful for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are working on. New technologies, including machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But it’s not just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will most likely do in the future.
Patients will find AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being integrated into hearing aids just because it’s the popular new fad. Some significant benefits to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Here are some of those benefits:
- Social engagement: In terms of managing social interaction, people who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some research. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of settings. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It probably just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can determine the seriousness of your fall. 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 identify when you should be moving more, eating healthier, or just hydrating more.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally translates into hearing better more often.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you actually want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
What this means for patients
For people who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often become real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. If you had an older-style hearing aid, it would just boost the volume up. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while dulling unwanted noise.
AI will create a location-by-location program to deal with the various types of sounds it detects. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can activate these programs. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with everyday sounds.
Here are some other practical benefits to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- You will have improved quality of life.
- The cognitive burden will be reduced.
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Reward vs. cost
There was a time when AI wasn’t available in the vast majority of hearing aids because of the costs involved. An algorithm is, after all, a complex math equation. 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 necessarily be less pricey in the near future. Clearly, patients will still need to make important choices. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more readily available.
Finding out what choice is 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 active and finds themselves in scenarios with many 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. As technology and AI improve, hearing aids will continue to as well.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can work for you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.