Technology is evolving into stronger, smarter, and smaller devices. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
So it’s not surprising that hearing aids are no exception. Though hearing issues have a variety of causes, hearing issues are more common amongst older people, and the world’s population is aging. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 37.5 million individuals and 3 million Canadians describe having difficulty hearing, and since age is a better predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number is likely to increase.
Of course, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, even one person with trouble hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing impairment? Bring ‘em on! Here are some of the innovations that are in the works.
Complete-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This one seems as if it should be obvious. Health and fitness trackers need to be worn on the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? The answer is no. If you have the latest hearing aid, it can most likely track your pulse, physical activity along with correcting hearing issues such as tinnitus. Certainly, a wearable such as an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can offer you other kinds of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend in active conversation or listening. How much social involvement you get can actually be an essential health metric, especially as you age.
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have smoothly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the principal emphasis here is connectivity. Audio from a device, like a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth compatible. Google published open-source specifications for Android developers that show them how to use specific channels within Bluetooth to provide uninterrupted audio straight to hearing aids. 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 according to what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit buzzes to let you know you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how ambitious your everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid may make personalized recommendations. The places you visit and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being manufactured by a few companies, to learn your habits. Some go as far as to crowdsource data about people’s usage habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be able to use this information to recognize what your situation is and make adjustments to give you the best audio experience.
Finally Ditching The Batteries
Ya, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? It can be very inconvenient making certain you have extra batteries or that your hearing aids are completely charged. While we’re not likely to see hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a continuous improvement in rechargeable technology. That means longer time in use, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, overall, not too bad.