You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than just fiction. 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 forever. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids use AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a type of technology that makes use of sophisticated algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. In doing this, AI algorithms participate in a type of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. When the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each individual result.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal needs depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear because of this.
How does AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
This might seem a little abstract initially. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can adding AI to the situation enhance things? Well, you know that row of big knobs and buttons that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve most likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s tiny.) Changing these settings can provide better sound quality. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing how you hear without any effort 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 conditions without being programmed to deal with them.
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 utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your email provider utilizes it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. These devices become more expert at making correct choices the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
These days, hearing aids are incorporating multiple brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the best examples include the following:
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone settings. Cross talk, for instance, can often be hard 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 packed or noisy environment.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Basically, you can initiate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a difficult time hearing. This then initiates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was masking up, which was good, but certainly made conversations with a hearing aid more difficult. You can stay safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own unique acoustic properties. Some of those properties are helpful for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. You will hear better in almost any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
This is likely only the beginning of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI utilized in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has kind of become a bit of a buzzword. Everybody’s heard it, which is okay, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So when it comes to the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
Making hearing aids even more useful for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are working on. New technologies, such as machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of 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 prevent future hearing loss.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
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. These machine learning algorithms provide some considerable advantages to patients. Here are a few of those benefits:
- 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. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you actually want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- Social engagement: In terms of managing social interaction, individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some research. This is likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of settings. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It most likely just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn off those algorithms. 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 using 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 might be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones if there is a severe fall. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to understand.
What this means for patients
For individuals with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often translate into real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. And unfortunately, 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 dulling unwanted noise.
AI learns to identify sounds and creates a location-by-location algorithm. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can activate these algorithms. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with day-to-day sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- The cognitive load will be reduced.
- Your quality of life will improve.
In other words, it’ll be easier 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). However, in part because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are beginning to go down.
That isn’t saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still might end up wanting a model that doesn’t have AI functionality. Obviously, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI features are becoming more widely obtainable and prevalent.
Deciding what’s best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the extra cost. But AI makes a huge difference for people who are socially involved and go out into noisy situations a lot.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less exhausted with AI hearing aids. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. As technology and AI develop, hearing aids will continue to as well.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can help you? Contact us to set up an appointment!