Technology is developing into stronger, smarter, and smaller devices. Being smaller while doing more is the overall trend.
This is also true for hearing aids, and it’s not surprising. Though hearing problems have many different causes, hearing problems are more prevalent amongst 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 difficulty hearing, and because age is a better predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number is likely to 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! Here are some of the innovations that are in the works.
Whole-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This one seems like it should be obvious. Devices that offer different kinds of health tracking are almost always worn and need to be worn on the body. So, if you’ve already got a device that’s in your ear… do you actually need a separate one on your wrist? The answer is no. If you have the latest hearing aid, it can most likely track your pulse, physical activity along with correcting hearing issues such as tinnitus. Hearing aids also have the ability to monitor things that other wearables normally don’t, like the duration of conversations. How much social engagement you get can actually be an important health metric, especially as you age.
Connectivity is the major watchword, as virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa have moved from smartphones to in-home devices seamlessly. Audio from a device, like a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth compatible. Google published open-source specifications for Android developers that show them how to use specific channels within Bluetooth to produce uninterrupted audio straight to hearing aids. This kind of technology is helping hearing aids function almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy movies, music, and more.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
Your next hearing aid could make personalized recommendations similar to how a Fitbit alerts you to fitness goals or how Netflix suggests your next movie based on your viewing trend. 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 push it even further, crowdsourcing data on how people use their hearing aids anonymizing and then aggregating the data. 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 most enjoyable 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 really inconvenient making sure you have spare batteries or that your hearing aids are completely charged. While we’re not likely to see hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a continuous improvement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get quicker charging time, extended use time, and less worry about batteries, which seems pretty good.