When someone talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it may arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But nowadays, AI is more science than just fiction. This is especially true with regard to hearing aids. The times when hearing aids simply amplified 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 participate in a type of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have 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 adjustments depending on your behaviors and your requirements. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear because of this.
How can you hear better with AI?
This may feel a bit abstract at first. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can adding AI to the situation enhance things? Well, you know that row of big knobs and switches that people use to mix music in recording studios? (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid includes one of those! (It’s tiny.) Changing these settings can provide better quality sound. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without needing you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a rich neural network. Because of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to situations without being programmed to deal with them.
This might sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to recommend programming based on your viewing history. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more expert at making appropriate decisions the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new advances
These days, hearing aids are incorporating multiple brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the best examples include the following:
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Basically, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. When this is activated AI will start working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone settings. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for example. But even in a noisy environment, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own unique acoustic properties. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic adjustments that allow you to hear better in nearly any setting.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were undoubtedly more difficult during the pandemic when everyone was wearing a facemask. You can stay safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
This is probably only the beginning of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the discipline of audiology
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Depending on the context, AI does different things, which can occasionally result in confusion. 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 useful to patients. New technologies, such as machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But it isn’t just hearing aids. In the future, AI may be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
As the technology develops and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, in contrast to other industries. These machine learning algorithms provide some considerable benefits to patients. Among those benefits are the following:
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you will hear is the sound you really want to hear.
- 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 means hearing better more frequently.
- Social engagement: Studies have revealed that people who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to dealing with their social engagement. This is likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a wider variety of settings. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It most likely just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can detect the seriousness of your fall. In some situations, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a severe fall. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health information easier to understand.
How does this affect patients?
For people who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often become real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. If you had 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 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 unwanted noise.
AI will create a location-by-location algorithm to deal with the various types of sounds it detects. If you return to a specific 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 day-to-day sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- The cognitive load will be decreased.
- You will have improved quality of life.
In other words, it’ll be easier to follow along with your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI was not available in the vast majority of hearing aids owing to the costs involved. After all, the device itself has to do some extreme calculations (an algorithm, of course, is basically a very fancy math problem). However, partially because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are starting to go down.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still might end up choosing a model that doesn’t have AI capabilities. Obviously, patients will still have to make important decisions. But AI features are becoming more readily available and prevalent.
Finding out what choice is best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be overkill for someone who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. But AI makes a big difference for people who are socially involved and go out into loud situations a lot.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. AI-powered hearing aids decrease the listener’s exhaustion and make social situations more enjoyable. 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.
How can AI technology help you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.