It seems like all our devices are getting smarter, stronger, and smaller. In general, the trend is that devices have more features and take up less space.
So it’s no surprise that hearing aids are no exception. Though hearing problems have many different causes, hearing difficulties are more common among older people, and the world’s population is getting older. According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians report having trouble hearing, and since age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number will probably increase.
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Are there any better ways to deal with hearing impairment? Bring ‘em on! Innovations are happening, here are some.
Complete-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This is so intuitive, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” innovations. Devices that provide different kinds of health tracking are nearly always worn and need to be worn close to the body. So, if you’ve already got a device that’s in your ear… do you actually need another one on your wrist? The answer is no. 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 keep track of your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Certainly, a wearable such as an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can offer you other types of input that can be helpful to monitoring health, like how much time you spend in active conversation or listening. Particularly as you get older, your level of social involvement can actually be an important health metric.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Connectivity is the important watchword, as virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa have advanced from smartphones to in-home devices without missing a beat. Audio from a device, such as a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth capable. Google released 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 technology is making things like movies and music more enjoyable by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
In a similar way to how Netflix recommends shows and movies based on what you’ve watched previously, or your Fitbit buzzes to let you know you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how ambitious your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid may make personalized suggestions. Several manufacturers are working on hearing aids that will learn both from the adjustments you make and from listening to the places you go. 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 provide you with the best audio experience.
Getting Rid of The Batteries For Good
Ya, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? It can be really inconvenient making sure you have spare batteries or that your hearing aids are fully charged. While a hearing aid that doesn’t take any batteries at all might seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology continues to improve. That means longer in-use time, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, all in all, not too bad.