When someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it might conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But these days, AI is more science than just fiction. This is particularly true when it comes to hearing aids. The days when hearing aids merely boosted the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone forever. Contemporary, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that utilizes data inputs to generate new results. In doing this, AI algorithms engage in a kind of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every individual result because the algorithm does that by itself.
Depending on the degree 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 improving your ability to hear because of this.
How can you hear better with AI?
At first, this might seem a bit abstract. After all, hearing aids seem to have a pretty straightforward function. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, you know that row of big knobs and switches that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve probably seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Altering these settings can deliver better quality sound. 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. As a result of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to conditions without being programmed to deal with them.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to suggest movies according to your viewing history, though it probably sounds like space-aged technology at first. AI is also encountered in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more expert at making correct choices the more you use them.
New improvements in AI hearing aids
These days, hearing aids are integrating several brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the best examples include the following:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was wearing masks, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping those with hearing aids hear better and stay safe simultaneously.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a setting that has lots of echoes, or is extremely loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. A hearing aid can have a difficult time with cross-talk, for example. But even in a loud setting, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. Essentially, you can activate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a tough time hearing. When this is initiated AI will begin working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own distinctive acoustic characteristics. Some of those qualities are helpful for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. You will hear better in nearly any setting with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
This is likely only the beginning of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the field of audiology
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Everybody’s heard it, which is good, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
First off, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more helpful to patients. This research includes new technologies, such as deep neural networks and machine learning. But it’s not just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will probably do in the future.
As the technology grows and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, in contrast to other industries. Some considerable advantages to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Among those advantages are the following:
- Social engagement: With regard to dealing with social interaction, individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some studies. This is most likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of environments. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It probably just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array 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.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be able to detect the significance and severity of your tumble. In some situations, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones in the event of a major fall. AI can also make your health information easier to understand, helping you know when you should be exercising more, eating healthier, or just hydrating more.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually means a better all-around hearing experience.
How does this affect patients?
These benefits frequently become real-world advantages for individuals who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. This isn’t practical because the conversation you actually care about will get overpowered by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, lowering background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will create a location-by-location program to address the various kinds of sounds it picks up. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate these algorithms. 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 won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- You will have improved quality of life.
- The cognitive burden will be decreased.
In other words, it’ll be easier to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t available in the majority of hearing aids until recent times. An algorithm is, after all, an intricate math equation. But prices are decreasing, partially due to the prevalence of the technology.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less pricey in the near future. Clearly, patients will still have to make important decisions. But AI functions are becoming more widely available and common.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be too much for someone who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. To someone who is socially involved and finds themselves in situations with many competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. Social situations are simpler and the user will feel less exhausted 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 develop, hearing aids will continue to too.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can work for you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.