You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get used to. This is especially true with regard to hearing aids. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that simply increase the volume of sounds around you. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids use AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a sophisticated computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to generate new results. AI is capable of using an algorithm to participate in a type of learning called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every individual result because the algorithm does that on its own.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make adjustments depending on your routines and your requirements. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
This may feel a little abstract at first. After all, hearing aids appear to have a fairly straightforward function. How can adding AI to the mix improve things? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard full of buttons and knobs. (You’ve most likely seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better quality of sound can be achieved by altering these settings. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, improving the way you hear without any hassle by you.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to emulate human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time situations because of this.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services recommend movies according to your viewing history, though it probably sounds like futuristic technology at first. AI is also encountered in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you make use of these devices, the more efficient they become at making proper decisions.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
These days, hearing aids are incorporating several brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the best examples include the following:
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio qualities come with each individual room you go into. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it doesn’t do so well with. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic corrections that let you hear better in just about any environment.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping those with hearing aids hear better and remain safe simultaneously.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone locations. 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 person across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy environment.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. In essence, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. When this is triggered AI will begin working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
Hearing aid producers and scientists are constantly developing new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the beginning.
How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Everybody’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 discipline of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are tackling. New technologies, like machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. 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 likely do in the future.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, unlike other industries. These machine learning algorithms offer some considerable advantages to patients. Among those benefits are the following:
- 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 range of other devices. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you will hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this usually means a better overall hearing experience.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can detect the seriousness of your fall. In the event of a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, alert the Authorities. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health information easier to interpret.
- Social engagement: With regard to dealing with social interaction, people who use 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 spectrum of settings, which likely accounts for better social interaction. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Likely, it simply helps those who are already social better maintain their relationships.
How does this affect patients?
For people who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently lead to real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just boost the volume up. This isn’t practical because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. 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 create a location-by-location program to deal with the various types of sounds it detects. These algorithms help when you go back to a specific location or sound profile. In order to better identify and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with everyday sounds.
Here are some other practical benefits to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- You will feel less aggravated because you will be able to hear better.
- You will have improved quality of life.
- The cognitive burden will be reduced.
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI was not offered in the vast majority of hearing aids owing to the costs involved. After all, the device itself has to do some intense 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’s not saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still might end up choosing a model that doesn’t include AI capabilities. Clearly, patients will still have to make important decisions. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more widely available.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be overkill for someone who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. But AI makes a huge difference for individuals who are socially involved and go out into loud situations a lot.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. Social situations are simpler and the user will feel less tired 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? Give us a call to set up an appointment!