Technology is evolving into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. In general, the trend is that devices have more features and take up less space.
Hearing aids are no exception, and it’s not surprising. Though hearing problems have a number of causes, hearing difficulties are more prevalent among older people, and the world’s population is getting older. Around 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe some level of hearing loss according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is going up since age is the best demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Naturally, if you’re dealing with hearing loss, even one individual with difficulty hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Are there any better ways to deal with hearing impairment? Bring ‘em on! Innovations are happening, here are a few.
Complete-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This one seems like it should be obvious. Health and fitness trackers 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! Or at least, you don’t with some of the latest hearing aids, which in addition to helping fix hearing difficulties such as tinnitus, will also track your pulse, your physical activity, and a whole lot more. Sure, a wearable such as an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can give you other types of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend having conversations or listening. Especially as you age your level of social involvement can actually be a key health metric.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Connectivity is the primary watchword, as virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa have advanced from smartphones to in-home devices without missing a beat. Audio from a device, such as a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth compatible. Google released open-source specifications for Android developers that show them how to use specific channels within Bluetooth to produce uninterrupted audio straight to hearing aids. This technology is making things like music and movies more enjoyable by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
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 goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how committed your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid might 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 push it even further, crowdsourcing data on how people use their hearing aids anonymizing and then mixing the data. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be able to use this information to know what your situation is and make adjustments to give you the most enjoyable audio experience.
Getting Rid of The Batteries For Good
Ya, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? It can be really inconvenient making sure you have extra batteries or that your hearing aids are fully charged. While we’re not likely to see hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a constant advancement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get quicker charging time, extended use time, and less worry about batteries, which seems pretty good.