You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than just fiction. When it comes to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely raise the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a type of technology that uses complex algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. In this way, AI algorithms engage 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 by itself.
Depending on the amount of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make modifications depending on your behaviors and your needs. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can AI help hearing aids work better?
At first, this could seem a little abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can adding AI to the situation enhance things? Well, you know that row of big dials and switches that people use to mix music in recording studios? (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Better audio quality can be achieved by altering these settings. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing the way you hear without any hassle on your part.
These smart devices use a deep neural network to emulate human brain responses. As a result of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to conditions without being programmed to do so.
This might sound like space-age science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming according to your viewing history. 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 correct decisions the more you use them.
New improvements in AI hearing aids
Presently, hearing aids are integrating multiple brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Here are some of the best examples:
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own distinct acoustic characteristics. Some of those properties are helpful for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. You will hear better in just about any environment with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. Basically, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. This then triggers the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a setting that has a lot of echoes, or is excessively loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for instance. But with an AI filtering out non-imperative information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy setting.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were definitely tougher during the pandemic when everyone was wearing a facemask. You can remain safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
This is likely only the start of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI utilized in the field of audiology?
These days, AI has kind of become something of a buzzword. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can occasionally result in confusion. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more useful for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are tackling. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But it’s not just hearing aids. In the future, AI might be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
In contrast to some other industries, AI is not being incorporated into hearing aids just because it’s the popular new fad. Some significant benefits to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Among those advantages are the following:
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn off those algorithms. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually translates into hearing better more frequently.
- Social engagement: Studies have revealed that individuals who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful when it comes to managing their social involvement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which likely accounts for better social interaction. Having said that, it’s not completely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life afloat. It probably just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from lots of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a range of other devices. 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 might be able to detect the significance and severity of your tumble. In the event of a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, notify the Authorities. AI can also make your health information easier to understand, helping you know when you should be moving more, eating healthier, or just hydrating more.
What this means for patients
These benefits often lead to real-world advantages for people 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 useful 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 learns to identify sounds and generates a location-by-location program. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate 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.
- Your brain will experience a lower cognitive load.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
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
There was a time when AI was not available in most hearing aids due to the costs involved. After all, the device itself has to perform some extreme calculations (an algorithm, of course, is basically a very fancy math problem). But prices are decreasing, partly 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 costly in the near future. Obviously, patients will still have to make important choices. But AI features are becoming more readily obtainable and prevalent.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be too much for somebody who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in situations with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also helpful for somebody who is rapidly worn out in social scenarios where the chore of keeping up with conversations using a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. AI-powered hearing aids reduce the listener’s exhaustion and make social situations more enjoyable. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. Hearing aids will keep improving as AI technology improves.
How can AI technology help you? Call us to make an appointment!