You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all better get used to. When it comes to hearing aids, this is especially true. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just raise the volume of sounds around you. Modern, high-end hearing aids use AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a type of technology that makes use of sophisticated algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. In this way, AI algorithms participate in a type of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every individual result because the algorithm does that on its own.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal requirements depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
At first, this may seem a bit abstract. After all, hearing aids appear to have a pretty basic function. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with switches and dials. (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Altering these settings can deliver better quality sound. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, improving how you hear without any effort by you.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a deep neural network. As a result of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to conditions without being programmed to deal with them.
This might sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to recommend programming according to your viewing history. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more expert at making appropriate decisions the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new advances
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Basically, you can activate something called edge mode whenever you’re having a tough time hearing. This then activates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio qualities come with each specific room you go into. Some of those qualities are good for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. You will hear better in almost any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but definitely made conversations with a hearing aid more difficult. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and stay safe at the same time.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a variety of loud or echo-prone locations. Cross talk, for instance, can often be hard on a hearing aid. But with an AI filtering out non-essential information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy setting.
This is most likely only the start of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can sometimes result in confusion. So when it comes to the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
First, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more beneficial to patients. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But it isn’t just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will likely do in the future.
As the technology expands and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, in contrast to other industries. These machine learning algorithms provide some considerable benefits to patients. Among those benefits are the following:
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from a wide variety of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a myriad of other devices. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can determine the severity of your fall. In some cases, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones if there is a major fall. AI can also make your health information easier to understand, helping you know when you should be moving more, eating healthier, or just hydrating more.
- Social engagement: With regard to managing social interaction, individuals who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some research. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which likely accounts for better social engagement. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It most likely just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually means a better all-around hearing experience.
What this means for patients
These benefits frequently lead to real-world advantages for those who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. This isn’t helpful because the conversation you actually care about will get overpowered by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while dulling unwanted noise.
AI will generate a location-by-location program to deal with the various kinds of sounds it detects. These algorithms help when you go back to a specific location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your quality of life will get better.
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- Your brain will have a lower cognitive load.
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t offered in the majority of hearing aids until recently. An algorithm is, in fact, a complex math equation. However, partially because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are starting to go down.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less costly in the near future. Clearly, patients will still have to make important decisions. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more readily available.
Figuring out what option is best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the extra cost. But AI makes a big difference for people who are socially involved and go out into noisy situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also practical for somebody who is quickly worn out in social situations where the task of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. AI-powered hearing aids reduce the listener’s fatigue and make social situations more enjoyable. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. Hearing aids will continue to improve as AI technology improves.
Want to find out how AI hearing aids can work for you? Call us to set up an appointment!