Technology is developing into stronger, smarter, and smaller devices. Taking up less space while having more functionality is the general trend.
So it’s no surprise that hearing aids are no exception. The world’s population is getting older and hearing issues, though they can have a variety of causes, are more common amongst older people. About 37.5 million adults and 3 million Canadians describe some level of hearing loss according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is going up because age is the strongest demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Naturally, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, even one person with trouble hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Are there any better ways to deal with hearing impairment? Let’s have them! Innovations are happening, here are some.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Entire Body
This one seems as if it should be obvious. Health and fitness trackers need to be worn on the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? Nope! If you have a newer hearing aid, it probably can track your pulse, physical activity along with fixing hearing issues like tinnitus. Certainly, a wearable such as an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can give you other kinds of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend having conversations or listening. Particularly as you age your level of social engagement 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. Some hearing aids that provide Bluetooth capabilities now allow users to stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for example, to the hearing aids. Google published open-source specifications for Android developers that show them how to use specific channels within Bluetooth to provide uninterrupted audio straight to hearing aids. This technology is making things like music and movies more satisfying by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
In a similar way to how Netflix recommends shows and movies based on what you’ve watched previously, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how committed your everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid might make personalized suggestions. The places you go and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being manufactured by several companies, to learn your behaviors. Some go as far as to crowdsource data about people’s usage habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. All this information enables the hearing aids to determine your preferences and make adjustments on the fly so that if you’re watching TV at home or you’re at an IMAX theater (for instance), you’ll get the best sound.
Getting Rid of The Batteries For Good
Ya, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? After all, making sure you’ve got spare batteries on hand, or even taking time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be annoying. While we’re not likely to see hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a constant improvement in rechargeable technology. That means longer in-use time, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, all in all, not too bad.