Have you used your ear trumpet lately? No? You don’t use one? Because that technology is centuries old. Okay, I suppose that makes sense. Ear trumpets are a bit… archaic.
The modern(ish) hearing aid, as it happens, was engineered during the 1950s–the basic shape, that is. And somehow, that’s the hearing aid which has become identified in our collective consciousness. But thinking of a hearing aid in this way isn’t realistic because those old hearing aids are out-dated technology. To understand just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unleash our imaginations.
Hearing Aids, Then And Now
It’s worthwhile to have some context concerning where hearing aids started in order to better understand how advanced they have become. If we trace the history back far enough, you can likely find some type of hearing assistance device as far back as the 1500s (though, there’s no proof that these wooden, ear-shaped items were actually effective).
The “ear trumpet” was most likely the first partially useful hearing assistance approach. This device was shaped like, well, a long trumpet. You would place the small end into your ear so that the wide end faced out. These, um, devices weren’t exactly high tech, but they did offer some measurable assistance.
The real innovation came when someone invited electricity to the party. In the 1950s the hearing aid that we are all familiar with was developed. They were quite rudimentary, using transistors and big, primitive batteries to get the job done. But a hearing aid that could be conveniently worn and hidden started with these devices. Of course, modern hearing aids may share the same shape and mission as those early 1950s models–but their performance goes light years beyond what was conceivable 7 decades ago.
Hearing Aid’s Modern Capabilities
Simply put, modern hearing aids are technological wonders. And they’re constantly developing. In a few profound ways, modern hearing aids have been making use of the digital technology of the later part of the twentieth century. The first, and the most essential way, is straight forward: power. Modern hearing aids can store substantially more power into a much smaller space than their earlier forerunners.
And with that improved power comes a long list of sophisticated developments:
- Speech recognition: The biggest goal, for most hearing aid owners, is to enable communication. Some hearing aids, then, have built-in speech recognition software created to isolate and boost voices primarily–which can be very useful in a wide variety of situations, from a crowded restaurant to an echo-y board room.
- Construction: Modern hearing aids feel more comfortable because they are constructed from high tech materials. These new materials allow hearing aids to be lighter and more robust simultaneously. And with the addition of long-lasting, rechargeable batteries, it’s easy to see how not just the inside–but also the outside–of hearing aids have advanced over the years.
- Bluetooth connectivity: Contemporary hearing aids are now able to communicate with all of your Bluetooth devices. You will utilize this feature on a daily basis. For instance, hearing aids used to have a difficult time with telephone calls because users would hear significant (and sometimes uncomfortable) feedback. When you connect to your phone via Bluetooth, the transition is smooth and communication is easy. You will also utilize Bluetooth functions to take part in a variety of other electronic activities. Because there’s no feedback or interference, it’s easier to listen to music, watch TV–you name it.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss does not manifest across all frequencies and wavelengths uniformly. Perhaps low frequency noise gets lost (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids can be programmed to boost only those sounds that you are unable to hear so well, resulting in a much more efficient hearing aid.
- Health monitoring: Modern hearing aids are also capable of incorporating sophisticated health tracking software into their settings. For example, some hearing aids can detect when you’ve fallen. There are others that can inform you about your fitness goals like how many steps that you have taken.
Just like rotary phones no longer represent long-distance communication, the hearing aids of old no longer represent what these devices are. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And that’s a good thing–because now they’re even better.