You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But nowadays, AI is more science than just fiction. With regard to hearing aids, this is especially true. The days when hearing aids simply increased the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a form of technology that uses sophisticated algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. In this way, AI algorithms engage in a type of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. As soon as the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each individual result.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal requirements depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How does AI help hearing aids work better?
This may seem a little abstract initially. After all, hearing aids seem to have a rather basic function. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with switches and dials. (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid includes one of those! (It’s tiny.) Better audio quality can be obtained by altering these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without needing you to do anything.
These smart devices use a deep neural network to emulate human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time situations because of this.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to recommend movies according to your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like futuristic technology initially. AI is also encountered in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more expert at making correct decisions the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own distinctive acoustic characteristics. Some of those qualities are good for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic adjustments that let you hear better in almost any environment.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a setting that has a lot of echoes, or is excessively loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. Cross talk, for instance, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But with an AI filtering out non-imperative information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy setting.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were undoubtedly harder during the pandemic when everyone was wearing a facemask. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and stay safe simultaneously.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Essentially, you can activate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a tough time hearing. When this is activated AI will begin working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
Hearing aid makers and scientists are constantly innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the beginning.
How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has kind of become something of a buzzword. Depending on the context, AI does different things, which can sometimes lead to confusion. So with regard to the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
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 hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will likely do in the future.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, in contrast to other industries. Some considerable advantages to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Here are a few of those benefits:
- Social engagement: Studies have found that people who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful in terms of dealing with their social engagement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which likely accounts for better social interaction. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It most likely just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from lots of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a myriad of other devices. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- 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.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can detect the seriousness of your fall. In some cases, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones in the event of a major fall. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
What this means for patients
For individuals with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently translate into real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. This isn’t useful because the conversation you actually care about will get overpowered by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI learns to recognize sounds and generates a location-by-location algorithm. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate these algorithms. In order to better identify 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 will have improved quality of life.
- You will feel less aggravated because you will be able to hear better.
- The cognitive burden will be reduced.
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Reward vs. cost
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t offered in most hearing aids until recently. An algorithm is, after all, an intricate math equation. However, partially because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are beginning to go down.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still may wind up choosing a model that doesn’t have AI functionality. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI functions are becoming more readily available and common.
Finding out what choice is best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the added cost. To someone who is socially involved and finds themselves in situations with many competing sounds, however, it makes a huge difference.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. AI-powered hearing aids reduce the listener’s exhaustion and make social situations more enjoyable. When the doorbell rings, or when you have a fall AI technology can alert you or a loved one and it can even track your steps. As technology and AI improve, hearing aids will continue to too.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can work for you? Contact us to set up an appointment!