You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But nowadays, AI is more science than just fiction. When it comes to hearing aids, this is particularly true. The days when hearing aids merely increased the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a sophisticated computer algorithm that utilizes data inputs to produce new results. AI is capable of using an algorithm to take part in a kind of learning called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every individual result because the algorithm does that by itself.
Depending on the amount of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make changes depending on your routines and your requirements. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear as a result.
How can AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
Initially, this may seem a little abstract. After all, hearing aids seem to have a pretty straightforward function. How can adding AI to the situation improve things? Well, you know that row of big knobs and switches that people use to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid contains one of those! (It’s tiny.) Adjusting these settings can deliver better quality sound. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without requiring you to do anything.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to re-create human brain responses. Because of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to conditions without being programmed to deal with them.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services recommend movies according to your viewing history, though it probably sounds like space-aged technology at first. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you utilize these devices, the more efficient they become at making correct decisions.
New improvements in AI hearing aids
Presently, hearing aids are incorporating several brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio properties come with each individual room you go into. Some of those qualities are good for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effectively make automatic adjustments that let you hear better in almost any environment.
- 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 example, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But even in a noisy setting, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was wearing masks, which was good, but certainly made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. You can remain safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Essentially, you can activate something called edge mode whenever you’re having a hard time hearing. This then initiates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
This is most likely only the beginning of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the field of audiology
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Everyone’s heard it, which is good, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
First, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more beneficial to patients. New technologies, such as 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 some things that AI will most likely do in the future.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
Unlike some other industries, AI is not being incorporated into hearing aids just because it’s the popular new fad. These machine learning algorithms provide some considerable benefits to patients. Here are some of those benefits:
- Social engagement: Studies have shown that individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to dealing with their social engagement. This is likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a wider variety of environments. That said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life afloat. It most likely just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. 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: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually means a better overall hearing experience.
- 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 might be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones in the event of a major fall. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health information easier to interpret.
How does this affect patients?
For individuals with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently translate into real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. If you had an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while lowering undesired noise.
AI learns to recognize sounds and creates a location-by-location program. These programs help when you return 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.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your brain will have a decreased cognitive burden.
- Your quality of life will improve.
- You will feel less frustrated 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.
Cost vs. reward
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids until recently. After all, the device itself must do some extreme calculations (an algorithm, after all, is basically a very elegant math problem). However, in part because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are beginning to go down.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less pricey in the near future. Clearly, patients will still have to make important decisions. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more readily available.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be overkill for somebody who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. 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 situations, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. AI-powered hearing aids decrease the listener’s fatigue and make social situations more enjoyable. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. Hearing aids will keep improving as AI technology improves.
Want to find out how AI hearing aids can help you? Call us to set up an appointment!