You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all better get used to. With regard to hearing aids, this is especially true. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that simply increase the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that uses data inputs to produce new results. AI is capable of using an algorithm to participate in a kind of learning called “machine learning”. When 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 adjustments depending on your routines and your needs. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
This might feel a little abstract initially. After all, hearing aids seem to have a pretty straightforward function. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with buttons and knobs. (You’ve most likely seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Changing these settings can produce better sound quality. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without requiring you to do anything.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to emulate human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time situations because of this.
This may sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to recommend programming according to your viewing history. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you use these devices, the more reliable they become at making proper decisions.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was wearing masks, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more challenging. You can stay safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a variety of loud or echo-prone locations. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for instance. But even in a noisy setting, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the individual across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Essentially, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. When this is activated AI will begin working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio qualities come with each individual room you walk into. Some of those properties are good for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. You will hear better in just about any setting with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
This is most likely only the start of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI utilized in the field of audiology?
These days, AI has kind of become something of a buzzword. Everybody’s heard it, which is okay, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
First, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more useful to patients. New technologies, like machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of this research. But it’s not just hearing aids. In the future, AI may be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
Patients will find AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
In contrast to some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids simply because it’s the hot new thing. These machine learning algorithms provide some significant benefits to patients. Among those benefits are the following:
- Social engagement: Studies have found that individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful in terms of dealing with their social involvement. This is most likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a wider variety of environments. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It probably just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can detect the seriousness of your fall. In some situations, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones if there is a major fall. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from lots of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a myriad of other devices. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this usually translates into hearing better more often.
What this means for patients
For people with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently result in real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while dulling unwanted noise.
AI will generate a location-by-location program to address the various types of sounds it detects. These programs help when you go back to a particular location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with day-to-day sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- Your quality of life will improve.
- The cognitive load will be reduced.
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Reward vs. cost
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t offered in the majority of hearing aids until recent times. An algorithm is, in fact, a complex math equation. However, in part because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are beginning to go down.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want might have AI, or even that those hearing aids will automatically be less costly in the near future. Obviously, patients will still have to make important choices. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more widely available.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be overkill for someone who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. To someone who is socially active and finds themselves in situations with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also useful for somebody who is rapidly worn out in social situations where the task of keeping up with conversations using a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less fatigued with AI hearing aids. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. As technology and AI improve, hearing aids will continue to as well.
How can AI technology help you? Make an appointment with us right away.