You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than just fiction. This is especially true with regard to hearing aids. The times when hearing aids merely increased the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a form of technology that utilizes sophisticated algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. AI is capable of using an algorithm to take part in a type of learning known as “machine learning”. As soon as the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each separate result.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal needs based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can AI help hearing aids work better?
This may seem a little abstract at first. After all, hearing aids seem to have a fairly basic function. How can adding AI to the situation improve things? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard full of buttons and dials. (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Adjusting these settings can produce better quality sound. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, improving the way you hear without any work on your part.
These smart devices use a deep neural network to emulate human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time situations because of this.
This may sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming based on your viewing history. Newer cars utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. These devices become more proficient at making correct choices the more you use them.
New advances in AI hearing aids
These days, hearing aids are incorporating several brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Here are some of the best examples:
- 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 even in a noisy setting, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own distinct acoustic characteristics. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic corrections that let you hear better in nearly any setting.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were undoubtedly tougher during the pandemic when everyone was wearing a facemask. You can stay safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Essentially, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. When this is activated AI will start working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
This is likely only the start of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has sort of become something of a buzzword. Depending on the context, AI does different things, which can occasionally cause confusion. So in terms of the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are tackling. New technologies, like 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 detecting hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
As the technology grows and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being integrated into hearing aids just because it’s the hot new thing. Some significant benefits to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Among those advantages are the following:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be able to detect the significance and seriousness of your tumble. In some situations, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones if there is a severe fall. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this often translates into hearing better more often.
- Social engagement: Studies have revealed that those who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to dealing with their social engagement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which probably accounts for better social engagement. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Likely, it simply helps those who are already social better preserve their relationships.
- 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 myriad of other devices. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
What this means for patients
For people with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently lead to real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. This isn’t helpful because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while lowering undesired noise.
AI will create a location-by-location algorithm to deal with the various types of sounds it picks up. If you go back to a specific location or sound profile, AI can initiate these programs. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Here are some other practical benefits to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- Your quality of life will get better.
- Your brain will have a lower cognitive load.
- You will feel less aggravated because you will be able to hear better.
In other words, it’ll be easier to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Reward vs. cost
There was a time when AI was not available in the vast majority of hearing aids due to the costs involved. An algorithm is, in fact, an intricate math equation. However, in part because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are beginning to go down.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still may end up wanting a model that doesn’t include AI capabilities. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more widely available.
Finding out what choice is best for you
For someone 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 individuals who are socially involved and go out into noisy situations a lot.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. 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!