When was the last time you utilized that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t use one? Because that technology is centuries old. Okay, I suppose that seems logical. Ear trumpets are a bit… archaic.
The modern(ish) hearing aid, as it happens, was developed in the 1950s–the basic design, that is. And somehow, that’s the hearing aid which has become established in our collective consciousness. The problem is that a hearing aid made in the 1950s is just about as antiquated as an ear trumpet. We need to really advance our thinking if we want to understand how much more advanced modern hearing aids are.
The History of Hearing Aids
In order to better recognize just how advanced hearing aids have become, it’s useful to have some context about where they started. As far back as the 1500s, you can find some type of hearing aid (though, there’s no proof that these wooden, ear-shaped artifacts were actually effective).
The “ear trumpet” was perhaps the first partially effective hearing assistance apparatus. This device looked like a long horn. You would put the narrow end in your ear so that the wide end faced out. These, um, devices weren’t really high tech, but they did provide some measurable assistance.
The real innovation came when electricity was invited to the party. The hearing aid that we are familiar with was really developed in the 1950s. In order to do their job, they made use of large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a fairly rudimentary design. But a hearing aid that could be conveniently worn and hidden started with these devices. The hearing aids of the 1950s might have appeared similar to modern hearing aids but the technology and functionality is worlds apart.
Hearing Aid’s Modern Features
Bottom line, modern hearing aids are technological masterpieces. And they’re constantly improving. In many profound ways, modern hearing aids have been taking advantage of the digital technology of the later twentieth century. Power is the first and most crucial way. Modern hearing aids can pack substantially more power into a much smaller area than their earlier forerunners.
And with that improved power comes a large number of sophisticated developments:
- Construction: Modern hearing aids are usually constructed out of advanced materials, so they feel more comfortable. While these new materials permit hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also enables them to be more robust. And with the addition of long-lasting, rechargeable batteries, it’s easy to see how not just the inside–but the outside–of hearing aids have improved over the years.
- Speech recognition: For many hearing aid users, the ultimate objective of these devices is to enable communication. Some hearing aids, then, have built-in speech recognition software designed to separate and boost voices mainly–from a busy restaurant to an echo-y meeting hall, this feature comes in handy in many circumstances.
- Health monitoring: Advanced Health tracking software is also integrated into modern hearing aid options. if you have a fall, for example, some hearing aids can recognize that. There are others that can keep you informed about your fitness goals like how many steps that you have taken.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss doesn’t occur across all wavelengths and frequencies equally. Perhaps you have a more difficult time hearing high-frequency sounds (or vice versa). Contemporary hearing aids are far more effective because they are able to boost only the frequencies you have a difficult time hearing.
- Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids can now connect to other devices using wireless Bluetooth technology. You will utilize this feature every day. For instance, hearing aids used to have a tough time dealing with telephone calls because users would hear significant (and sometimes uncomfortable) feedback. With modern hearing aids, you can just connect to your cellphone using Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. You will also utilize Bluetooth connectivity to participate in a variety of other electronic activities. This means simple, feedback free connection to your music, TV, etc.
The old style hearing aids no longer represent what hearing aids are, just as rotary phones no longer illustrate what long distance communication looks like. Hearing aids aren’t what they used to be. And we should be excited because they’re a lot better than they were.