Technology is developing into stronger, smarter, and smaller devices. In general, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
So it’s not surprising that hearing aids are no exception. The world’s population is aging and hearing issues, though they can have a number of causes, are more common amongst older individuals. Around 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe some amount of hearing impairment according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is going up because age is the strongest demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing loss? Let’s have them! Here are some of the advancements that are happening.
Complete-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This is so obvious, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” developments. Devices that provide different kinds of health tracking are nearly always worn and have to be worn on the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? Nope! If you have the latest hearing aid, it probably can keep track of your pulse, physical activity along with fixing hearing issues such as tinnitus. Hearing aids can also track things that other wearables normally don’t, like the time spent conversing. How much social engagement you get can actually be an important health metric, particularly as you get older.
Connectivity is the primary watchword, as virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa have moved from smartphones to in-home devices without missing a beat. Some hearing aids that provide Bluetooth capabilities now allow users to stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for instance, to the hearing aids. Android developers now have open-source specs provided by Google which lets them use specific Bluetooth channels to stream continuous audio straight to your hearing aid. This technology is making things like movies and music more satisfying by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
Similar to how Netflix recommends shows and movies based on what you’ve watched previously, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a milestone (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how ambitious your everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid could make personalized recommendations. Several manufacturers are working on hearing aids that will learn both from the adjustments you make and from listening to the places you go. Some go as far as to crowdsource data about people’s utilization habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. All this information allows the hearing aids to ascertain your preferences and make adjustments on the fly so that if you’re at home watching TV or you’re in an IMAX theater (for example), you’ll get the best sound.
Finally Losing The Batteries
Ya, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t require batteries? After all, making certain you’ve got spare batteries on hand, or even taking time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be a pain in the, um, ear. While a hearing aid that doesn’t take any batteries at all might seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology keeps improving. You’ll get faster charging time, extended use time, and less worry about batteries, which seems pretty good.