You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But nowadays, AI is more science than just fiction. With regard to hearing aids, this is particularly true. The times when hearing aids merely boosted the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a type of technology that uses sophisticated algorithms to produce 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 need to program every individual result because the algorithm does that on its own.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal needs based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear as a result.
How can you hear better with AI?
At first, this could seem a little abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with buttons and knobs. (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid includes one of those! (It’s tiny.) Better sound quality can be obtained by modifying these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without requiring you to do anything.
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 conditions without being programmed to deal with them.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to recommend movies based on your viewing history, though it probably sounds like space-aged technology at first. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. These devices become more adept at making appropriate choices the more you use them.
New improvements in AI hearing aids
Presently, hearing aids are integrating multiple brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the best examples include the following:
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Essentially, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. When this is initiated AI will begin working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- 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 simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- 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. Cross talk, for example, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But with an AI filtering out non-imperative information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy environment.
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio qualities come with each individual room you walk 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 environment.
This is likely only the beginning of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI utilized in the discipline of audiology?
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Everyone’s heard it, which is okay, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So with regard to the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
First, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more useful to patients. New technologies, including 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.
As the technology develops and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
Unlike some other industries, AI is not being integrated into hearing aids just because it’s the popular new thing. Some considerable benefits to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Among those advantages are the following:
- Social engagement: Studies have shown that individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to dealing with their social involvement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which most likely accounts for better social engagement. That said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life afloat. Likely, it simply helps those who are already social better manage their relationships.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can determine the severity of your fall. In the event of a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, alert the Authorities. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health information easier to interpret.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn off those algorithms. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this usually translates into hearing better more frequently.
- 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.
What this means for patients
These benefits frequently become real-world advantages for individuals who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. This isn’t helpful 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 respond the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will generate a location-by-location algorithm to address the various types of sounds it detects. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can activate these algorithms. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with everyday sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your quality of life will improve.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- Your brain will have a reduced cognitive load.
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids until recent times. After all, the device itself has to do some intense calculations (an algorithm, after all, is essentially a very elegant math problem). But prices are coming down, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still might wind up wanting a model that doesn’t include AI capabilities. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more widely available.
Figuring out what choice is best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be overkill for somebody who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. But AI makes a huge difference for individuals who are socially involved and go out into noisy situations a lot.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. Social situations are simpler and the user will feel less tired 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 as well.
How can AI technology help you? Make an appointment with us right away.