You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get used to. This is especially true when it comes to hearing aids. The days when hearing aids merely increased the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a sophisticated computer algorithm that utilizes data inputs to produce new results. In this way, AI algorithms take part in a kind of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every individual result because the algorithm does that by itself.
Depending on the degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make changes depending on your behaviors and your needs. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear as a result.
How can you hear better with AI?
Initially, this may seem a bit abstract. After all, hearing aids appear to have a fairly basic function. How can adding AI to the situation enhance things? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard full of switches and knobs. (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Adjusting these settings can produce better quality sound. 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. Because of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to situations without being programmed to do so.
This might sound like space-age science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to recommend programming based on 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. The more you make use of these devices, the more efficient they become at making correct decisions.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Here are some of the best examples:
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Essentially, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. This then activates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were certainly more difficult during the pandemic when everyone was wearing a facemask. You can remain safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio qualities come with each specific room you go into. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. You will hear better in almost any setting with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a setting that has lots of echoes, or is excessively loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for example. 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 crowded or noisy environment.
Hearing aid manufacturers and scientists are continuously developing new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the beginning.
How is AI utilized in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has sort of become something of a buzzword. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can in some cases lead to confusion. 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 evident things that researchers are tackling. New technologies, including machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. In the future, AI may be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
As the technology develops and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
In contrast to some other industries, AI is not being integrated into hearing aids simply because it’s the popular new thing. These machine learning algorithms offer some considerable advantages to patients. Among those advantages 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 detect the seriousness of your fall. In some cases, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a severe fall. AI can also make your health information easier to interpret, helping you know when you should be moving more, eating healthier, or just hydrating more.
- Social engagement: Studies have found that those who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful when it comes to dealing with their social engagement. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a wider variety of environments. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Most likely, it simply helps those who are already social better maintain their relationships.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices 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.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you will hear is the sound you really want to hear.
How does this affect patients?
For people who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often translate into real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult 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 identify sounds and generates a location-by-location program. These programs help when you go back to a specific location or sound profile. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with everyday sounds.
Here are some other practical benefits to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- The cognitive load will be decreased.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
- You will have improved quality of life.
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
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t offered in most hearing aids until recent times. An algorithm is, in fact, an intricate math equation. However, in part because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are starting to go down.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want might have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less costly in the near future. Obviously, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI features are becoming more widely available and common.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be too much for someone who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in situations with many competing sounds, however, it makes a huge 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 utilizing a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. Social situations are easier 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 develop, hearing aids will continue to as well.
How can AI technology help you? Contact us to make an appointment!