When was the last time you utilized that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t have one? Because that technology is hundreds of years old. Okay, I suppose that makes sense. Ear trumpets are a bit… archaic.
The modern(ish) hearing aid, it turns out, was developed during the 1950s–the basic design, that is. And for some reason, that’s the hearing aid which has become identified in our collective consciousness. The problem is that a hearing aid made in the 1950s is just about as antiquated as an ear trumpet. To understand just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unshackle our imaginations.
Hearing Aids, Then And Now
In order to better understand just how advanced hearing aids have become, it’s useful to have some context about where they started out. As far back as the 1500s, it’s possible to find some form of hearing aid (whether any of them ever actually helped you improve your hearing is probably unlikely).
The first partially helpful hearing assistance apparatus was probably the ear trumpet. This device was shaped like, well, a long trumpet. You would put the narrow end inside your ear so that the wide end pointed out. These, um, devices weren’t exactly high tech, but they did provide some measurable assistance.
The real innovation came once someone invited electricity to the party. In the 1950s the hearing aid as we know it was created. They were quite basic, relying on transistors and big, primitive batteries to effectively work. But these gadgets signify the beginning of a hearing aid that could easily be worn and concealed. The hearing aids of the 1950s may have looked comparable to modern hearing aids but the technology and functionality is worlds apart.
Hearing Aid’s Modern Features
Simply put, modern hearing aids are technological wonders. And they continue getting better. In a number of significant ways, modern hearing aids have been taking advantage of the digital technology of the later twentieth century. The first, and the most important way, is simple: power. Earlier models contained batteries that had less power in a larger space than their modern counterparts.
And a long list of cutting-edge advances come with increased power:
- Construction: Modern hearing aids are normally made of advanced materials, so they feel more comfortable. While these new materials permit hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also allows them to be more heavy-duty. And with the addition of long-lasting, rechargeable batteries, it’s easy to see how not only the inside–but the outside–of hearing aids have improved over the years.
- Health monitoring: State-of-the-art Health tracking software is also integrated into modern hearing aid choices. For example, some hearing aids can detect whether you’ve fallen. Other features can count your steps or give you exercise encouragement.
- Speech recognition: For many hearing aid users, the biggest objective of these devices is to enable communication. Many hearing aids, then, have built-in speech recognition software created to isolate and amplify voices mainly–which can be quite useful in a wide range of scenarios, from a packed restaurant to an echo-y meeting room.
- Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids can now communicate with other devices using wireless Bluetooth technology. You will utilize this feature every day. Older hearing aids, for example, would have irritating feedback when you would attempt to talk on the telephone. When you connect to your phone via Bluetooth, the transition is simple and communication is effortless. You will also use Bluetooth connectivity to participate in a variety of other electronic activities. Because there isn’t any interference or feedback, it’s easier to listen to music, watch TV–you name it.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss usually manifests as loss of certain wavelengths and frequencies of sound. Perhaps you have a harder time hearing high-frequency noises (or vice versa). Contemporary hearing aids are far more efficient because they can amplify only the frequencies you have a difficult time hearing.
The older style hearing aids no longer represent what hearing aids are, in the same way as rotary phones no longer illustrate what long distance communication looks like. Hearing aids aren’t what they used to be. And we should be excited because they’re substantially better than they used to be.