It seems like all our devices are getting stronger, smarter, and smaller. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
This is also true for hearing aids, and it’s not a surprise. Though hearing problems have many different causes, hearing problems are more prevalent among older people, and the world’s population is getting older. About 37.5 million adults and 3 million Canadians report some level of hearing impairment according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is going up since age is the best demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Of course, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, even one individual with difficulty hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Are there any better ways to deal with hearing impairment? Bring ‘em on! Advancements are happening, here are some.
Whole-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This one seems like it should be obvious. Devices that provide different kinds of health tracking are almost always worn and need to be worn close to the body. So, if you already have a device that’s in your ear… do you actually need a separate one on your wrist? Nope! If you have a newer hearing aid, it probably can track your pulse, physical activity along with fixing hearing issues such as tinnitus. Hearing aids also have the ability to track things that other wearables normally don’t, like the time spent conversing. How much social engagement you get can actually be an essential health metric, especially as you age.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the principal focus here is connectivity. Audio from a device, such as a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth capable. Google published open-source specifications for Android developers that show them how to use certain channels within Bluetooth to produce uninterrupted audio directly to hearing aids. This type of technology is helping hearing aids function almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy movies, music, and more.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Your next hearing aid could make individualized suggestions much like how a Fitbit alerts you to fitness objectives or how Netflix recommends your next movie in line with 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 information on how people use their hearing aids anonymizing and then mixing the data. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be able to use this information to identify what your situation is and make adjustments to give you the most enjoyable audio experience.
Eliminating The Batteries Once And For All
Hearing aids that don’t need their batteries changed? Sound too good to be true? After all, making certain you’ve got spare batteries on hand, or even taking time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be a pain in the, um, ear. While a hearing aid that doesn’t use any batteries at all might seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology keeps improving. You’ll get quicker charging time, extended use time, and less worry about batteries, which seems pretty good.