When someone talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it may conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But nowadays, AI is more science than just fiction. When it comes to hearing aids, this is particularly true. The days when hearing aids simply boosted the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone forever. Contemporary, high-end hearing aids use AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a type of technology that makes use of complex algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. In this way, AI algorithms engage in a kind of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. When the algorithm is working properly, 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 level of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear as a result.
How can you hear better with AI?
This may seem a bit abstract at first. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can adding AI to the situation improve things? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with buttons and knobs. (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better audio quality can be achieved by adjusting these settings. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, improving how you hear without any work by you.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a rich neural network. As a result of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to situations without being programmed to do so.
This may sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming according to your viewing history. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier utilizes it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. These devices become more adept at making appropriate choices the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Here are some of the best examples:
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own distinct acoustic properties. Some of those qualities are helpful for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic corrections that allow you to hear better in almost any environment.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Essentially, you can initiate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a difficult time hearing. When this is initiated AI will start working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has a lot of echoes, or is overly loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. Cross talk, for example, 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 individual across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy environment.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were definitely more difficult during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping individuals with hearing aids hear better and stay safe at the same time.
Hearing aid manufacturers and scientists are continuously innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the beginning.
How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has sort of become a bit of a buzzword. Everyone’s heard it, which is okay, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more useful for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are tackling. This research includes new technologies, including deep neural networks and machine learning. But it’s not just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will most likely do in the future.
Patients will find AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, in contrast to other industries. These machine learning algorithms offer some significant advantages to patients. Here are some of those benefits:
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually means a better all-around hearing experience.
- 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. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- Social engagement: With regard to dealing with social interaction, individuals who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some research. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide spectrum of settings, which likely accounts for better social interaction. That said, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life healthy. Likely, it simply helps those who are already social better maintain their relationships.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can detect the severity of your fall. In some cases, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones in the event of a major fall. AI can also make your health data easier to interpret, helping you identify when you should be exercising more, eating healthier, or just hydrating more.
How does this impact patients?
For people with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often lead to real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, lowering background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will generate a location-by-location algorithm to deal with the various kinds of sounds it picks up. If you go back to a specific location or sound profile, AI can initiate these programs. In order to better identify and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with day-to-day sounds.
Here are some other practical benefits to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- Your brain will experience a reduced cognitive load.
- You will have improved quality of life.
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Reward vs. cost
There was a time when AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids due to the costs involved. An algorithm is, after all, a complex math equation. But prices are coming down, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will automatically be less expensive in the near future. Clearly, patients will still need to make important decisions. But AI features are becoming more readily available and prevalent.
Figuring out what choice is best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the added cost. But AI makes a huge difference for people who are socially active and go out into noisy situations a lot.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. Social situations are simpler and the user will feel less tired with AI hearing aids. 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 find out how AI hearing aids can help you? Give us a call to schedule an appointment!