AI technology built into hearing aids can help you hear even better

You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But nowadays, AI is more science than fiction. When it comes to hearing aids, this is especially true. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely increase the volume of sounds around you. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.

What is artificial intelligence?

AI is a type of technology that uses complex algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. In doing this, AI algorithms take part in a type of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every individual result because the algorithm does that by itself.

In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal requirements depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear as a result.

How can AI help hearing aids work better?

Initially, this might seem a bit abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, you know that row of big dials and switches that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve probably 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. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, improving how you hear without any work on your part.

This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a rich neural network. As a result of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to situations without being programmed to do so.

This is the same technology that allows streaming services to recommend 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. The more you use these devices, the more reliable they become at making correct decisions.

AI hearing aids – new innovations

Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Some of the most relevant instances include the following:

  • Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was wearing masks, which was good, but certainly made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. You can stay safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
  • Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Basically, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. When this is activated AI will start working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
  • Noisy room filters: If you’re in a setting that has lots of echoes, or is overly loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for example. But even in a noisy setting, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the person across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
  • Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio qualities come with each specific room you go into. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic adjustments that let you hear better in nearly any setting.

Hearing aid manufacturers and scientists are continuously innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the beginning.

How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?

These days, AI has kind of become something of a buzzword. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can sometimes lead to confusion. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?

Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are tackling. New technologies, such as machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. 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.

The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids

In contrast to some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids just because it’s the popular new fad. These machine learning algorithms provide some considerable benefits to patients. Here are a few of those benefits:

  • Social engagement: Studies have shown that those who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful in terms of managing their social involvement. This is likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a wider variety of settings. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Most likely, it simply helps those who are already social better preserve their relationships.
  • Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can determine the severity of your fall. In the event of a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, notify the Authorities. AI can also make your health data easier to interpret, helping you identify when you should be exercising more, eating better, or just drinking more water.
  • You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually means a better overall hearing experience.
  • Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from a wide variety of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a range of other devices. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you really want to hear.

How does this affect patients?

For people who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently translate into real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. This isn’t practical because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while lowering undesired noise.

AI learns to identify sounds and generates a location-by-location algorithm. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate these programs. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.

Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:

  • The cognitive load will be reduced.
  • You will feel less aggravated because you will be able to hear better.
  • You will have improved quality of life.

You will be able to hang out 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 most hearing aids until recent times. After all, the device itself must perform some intense calculations (an algorithm, after all, is essentially a very elegant math problem). However, partially because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are starting 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 pricey in the near future. Obviously, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI features are becoming more widely available and prevalent.

Deciding what’s best for you

For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the additional cost. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in scenarios with many competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.

For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. Social situations are simpler and the user will feel less exhausted with AI hearing aids. When the doorbell rings, or when you have a fall AI technology can alert you or a loved one and it can even track your steps. Hearing aids will keep improving as AI technology improves.

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