You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, 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. Contemporary, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that uses data inputs to produce new results. In doing this, AI algorithms engage in a kind of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. As soon as the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each separate result.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make changes depending on your behaviors and your requirements. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How can AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
This may seem a little abstract initially. 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 buttons that people use 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 move these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing the way you hear without any work by you.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to imitate human brain responses. Because of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to situations without being programmed to deal with them.
This may sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to recommend programming based on your viewing history. Newer cars utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your email provider uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. These devices become more proficient at making correct decisions the more you use them.
New advances in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids these days 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: Conversations were definitely tougher during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping individuals with hearing aids hear better and stay safe simultaneously.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a variety of loud or echo-prone settings. Cross talk, for instance, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But with an AI filtering out non-essential information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy setting.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Basically, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. This then activates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own distinct acoustic characteristics. Some of those qualities are good for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. You will hear better in nearly any setting with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
Hearing aid producers and scientists are continuously innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the beginning.
How is AI utilized in the discipline of audiology?
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Depending on the context, 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 working on. This research includes new technologies, such as deep neural networks and machine learning. But it’s not just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will most likely do in the future.
Patients will find AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, unlike other industries. Some significant advantages to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Here are some of those benefits:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can determine the seriousness of your fall. If there is a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, notify the Authorities. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health data easier to understand.
- Social engagement: When it comes to managing social interaction, people who use AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some research. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide spectrum of settings, which probably accounts for better social engagement. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It most likely 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.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually means a better all-around hearing experience.
How does this impact patients?
These benefits frequently lead to real-world advantages for people 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. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while lowering unwanted noise.
AI will generate a location-by-location algorithm to deal with the various types of sounds it picks up. 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:
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- You will have improved quality of life.
- Your brain will have a decreased cognitive load.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Reward vs. cost
There was a time when AI was not offered in the vast majority of hearing aids due to the costs involved. After all, the device itself must do some intense calculations (an algorithm, of course, is essentially a very elegant math problem). However, in part 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 definitely come down in price soon and you still might wind up wanting a model that doesn’t have AI capabilities. Clearly, patients will still have to make important choices. But AI features are becoming more widely obtainable and prevalent.
Figuring out what choice is best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the added cost. But AI makes a huge difference for people who are socially active and go out into noisy situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also helpful for somebody who is rapidly worn out in social situations where the chore of keeping up with conversations using a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. AI-powered hearing aids decrease the listener’s fatigue 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 continue to improve as AI technology improves.
How can AI technology help you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.