Technology is evolving into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. In general, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
So it’s no surprise that hearing aids are no exception. Though hearing problems have a variety of causes, hearing problems are more common among older people, and the world’s population is aging. According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly 37.5 million individuals and 3 million Canadians report having trouble hearing, and because age is a better predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number will probably go up.
If you’re dealing with hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Better ways to reduce hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Advancements are happening, here are a few.
Whole-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This one seems like it should be obvious. Devices that offer different types of health tracking are almost always worn and need to be worn close to the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? The answer is no. Or at least, you don’t with some of the latest hearing aids, which along with helping correct for hearing difficulties like tinnitus, will also track your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Sure, a wearable such as an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can provide you with other kinds of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend in active conversation or listening. Especially as you get older, your level of social involvement can actually be a key health metric.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Connectivity is the major watchword, as virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa have moved from smartphones to in-home devices without missing a beat. Some hearing aids that have Bluetooth capabilities now let users stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for instance, to the hearing aids. Android developers now have open-source specifications supplied by Google which lets them use certain Bluetooth channels to stream continuous audio straight to your hearing aid. This kind of technology is helping hearing aids work almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy music, movies, and more.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
Similar to how Netflix suggests shows and movies based on what you’ve watched previously, or your Fitbit buzzes to let you know you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how driven your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid could make personalized suggestions. The places you go and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being developed by several companies, to learn your habits. Some go as far as to crowdsource data about people’s utilization habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. All this info enables the hearing aids to figure out your preferences and make adjustments on the fly so that if you’re watching TV at home or you’re at an IMAX theater (for instance), you’ll get the best sound.
Finally Ditching The Batteries
We know, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t require batteries? It can be very inconvenient making certain you have extra batteries or that your hearing aids are fully charged. While a hearing aid that doesn’t use any batteries at all might seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology keeps improving. You’ll get quicker charging time, extended use time, and worry less about batteries, which seems pretty good.