You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than just fiction. This is especially true with regard to hearing aids. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just increase the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a form of technology that uses complex 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 need to program every individual result because the algorithm does that by itself.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal needs based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear because of this.
How can you hear better with AI?
This may feel a little abstract at first. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard full of buttons and knobs. (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better quality of sound can be attained by altering these settings. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing the way you hear without any work on your part.
These smart devices use a deep neural network to emulate human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time conditions because of this.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to suggest movies according to your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like space-aged technology initially. Newer cars utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you use these devices, the more reliable they become at making proper decisions.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
These days, hearing aids are incorporating multiple brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own unique acoustic characteristics. Some of those properties are good for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. You will hear better in nearly any setting with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has lots of echoes, or is extremely loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. Cross talk, for example, can often be hard on a hearing aid. But with an AI filtering out non-imperative information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy environment.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was wearing masks, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. You can remain safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Essentially, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. When this is initiated AI will start working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
This is likely only the start of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI utilized in the discipline of audiology?
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Everybody’s heard it, which is okay, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So in terms of the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are working on. New technologies, including machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But it’s not just hearing aids. In the future, AI may be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, unlike other industries. These machine learning algorithms offer some considerable advantages to patients. Among those benefits are the following:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can determine the severity of your fall. In some situations, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones in the event of a major fall. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally means a better overall hearing experience.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you actually want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- Social engagement: Studies have revealed that people who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful in terms of managing their social engagement. This is most likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of settings. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Likely, it simply helps people who are already social better maintain their relationships.
What this means for patients
For individuals with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently become real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just boost the volume up. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while lowering unwanted noise.
AI will create a location-by-location program to address the various kinds of sounds it picks up. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate these algorithms. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with day-to-day sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
- Your brain will have a lower cognitive load.
- Your quality of life will get better.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to follow along with your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t offered in most hearing aids until recently. After all, the device itself must do some extreme calculations (an algorithm, after all, is essentially a very fancy math problem). However, partially because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are starting to go down.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still might end up wanting a model that doesn’t include AI capabilities. Clearly, patients will still have to make important decisions. But AI functions are becoming more readily obtainable and common.
Deciding what’s best for you
For someone 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 individuals who are socially active and go out into loud situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also helpful for somebody who is rapidly worn out in social scenarios where the chore of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. AI-powered hearing aids reduce the listener’s exhaustion 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 keep improving as AI technology improves.
How can AI technology help you? Contact us to schedule an appointment!