You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get accustomed to. This is particularly true with regard to hearing aids. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely raise the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a type of technology that utilizes sophisticated algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. AI is able to use an algorithm to take part in a type of learning known as “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every individual result because the algorithm does that by itself.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal needs 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 initially. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can adding AI to the situation improve things? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with switches and dials. (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Better audio quality can be obtained by altering these settings. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing how you hear without any work by you.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a rich neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time situations because of this.
This might 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 provider uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you utilize these devices, the more efficient they become at making correct decisions.
New improvements in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Here are some 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 bad for your hearing aids. You will hear better in just about any setting with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a setting that has a lot of echoes, or is excessively loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. Cross talk, for instance, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But with an AI filtering out non-essential information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy setting.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was wearing masks, which was good, but definitely made conversations with a hearing aid more challenging. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping individuals with hearing aids hear better and stay safe simultaneously.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Basically, you can activate something called 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.
This is likely only the beginning of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for 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 result in confusion. So when it comes to the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
First, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more helpful to patients. New technologies, like machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But it isn’t just hearing aids. In the future, AI may be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, in contrast to other industries. Some considerable benefits to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Here are some of those benefits:
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you will hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this often means hearing better more frequently.
- Social engagement: When it comes to dealing with social interaction, individuals who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some studies. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which likely accounts for better social engagement. Having said that, it’s not completely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life healthy. Likely, it simply helps those who are already social better manage their relationships.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be capable of detecting the significance and seriousness of your tumble. In some cases, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a major fall. AI can also make your health data easier to interpret, helping you know when you should be moving more, eating better, or just drinking more water.
How does this impact patients?
These benefits frequently lead to real-world advantages for people with these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while lowering undesired noise.
AI learns to recognize sounds and generates a location-by-location program. If you return to a specific location or sound profile, AI can activate these programs. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your brain will have a decreased cognitive burden.
- Your quality of life will improve.
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
In other words, it’ll be simpler to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite friends, 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 has to do some extreme calculations (an algorithm, after all, is basically a very fancy math problem). But prices are decreasing, partially due to the prevalence of the technology.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still may end up wanting a model that doesn’t have AI capabilities. Clearly, patients will still need to make important choices. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more readily available.
Figuring 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 extra cost. To somebody who is socially active and finds themselves in situations with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also useful for someone who is rapidly worn out in social scenarios where the task of keeping up with conversations using a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. 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.
Want to find out how AI hearing aids can help you? Make an appointment with us right away.