You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than fiction. When it comes to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just increase the volume of sounds around you. Contemporary, high-end hearing aids use AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a sophisticated computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to produce new results. In this way, AI algorithms engage in a type of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. Once the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each separate result.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make modifications depending on your behaviors and your needs. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear as a result.
How does AI help hearing aids work better?
This may feel a little abstract at first. After all, hearing aids appear to have a rather basic function. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard full of switches and knobs. (You’ve probably seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Altering these settings can produce better sound quality. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without needing you to do anything.
These smart devices use a deep neural network to imitate 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 suggest movies based on your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like futuristic technology at first. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email provider uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you utilize these devices, the more reliable they become at making proper decisions.
New advancements in AI hearing aids
These days, hearing aids are incorporating multiple brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Here are some of the best examples:
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio qualities come with each specific room you go into. Some of those properties are helpful for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. You will hear better in almost any setting with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone settings. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for instance. But with an AI filtering out non-essential information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy setting.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. Basically, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. This then initiates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were definitely more difficult during the pandemic when everyone was wearing a facemask. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and remain safe at the same time.
This is likely only the beginning of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the field of audiology
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can sometimes cause confusion. So with regard to the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
Making hearing aids even more helpful for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are working on. New technologies, like machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. In the future, AI might be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids just because it’s the hot new fad. Some significant benefits to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Here are some of those benefits:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be able to detect the significance and severity of your tumble. In the event of a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, alert the Authorities. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health information easier to interpret.
- Social engagement: With regard to managing social interaction, people who utilize 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 variety of settings, which most likely accounts for better social engagement. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Most likely, it simply helps people who are already social better preserve their relationships.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you actually want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally means a better overall hearing experience.
What this means for patients
These benefits often become real-world advantages for individuals who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. If you were using 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 unwanted noise.
AI will create a location-by-location program to deal with the various kinds of sounds it detects. If you return to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate these programs. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with day-to-day sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages 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 decreased.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to follow along with your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
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, partially because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are beginning to go down.
That isn’t saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still may end up choosing a model that doesn’t have AI capabilities. Obviously, patients will still need to make important choices. But AI functions are becoming more widely obtainable and prevalent.
Deciding what’s best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the additional cost. To somebody who is socially active and finds themselves in conditions with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
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 see how AI hearing aids can work for you? Call us to set up an appointment!