It seems as if all our devices are getting stronger, smarter, and more compact. In general, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
Hearing aids are no exception, and it’s not a surprise. The world’s population is getting older and hearing problems, though they can have a variety of causes, are more common amongst older individuals. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 37.5 million individuals and 3 million Canadians report having trouble hearing, and since age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number is likely to go up.
Of course, if you’re dealing with hearing loss, even one individual with difficulty hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Better ways to reduce hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Innovations are happening, here are some.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Whole Body
This one seems as if it should be obvious. Health and fitness trackers need to be worn on the body. So, if you’ve already got a device that’s in your ear… do you really need a separate one on your wrist? The answer is no. If you have a newer hearing aid, it probably can track your pulse, physical activity along with improving hearing issues like tinnitus. Hearing aids also have the ability to monitor things that other wearables usually don’t, like the time spent conversing. Especially as you age your level of social engagement can actually be an important health metric.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the principal emphasis here is connectivity. Some hearing aids that provide Bluetooth capabilities now allow users to stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for instance, to the hearing aids. Google released open-source specifications for Android developers that show them how to use certain channels within Bluetooth to provide uninterrupted audio straight to hearing aids. This kind of technology is helping hearing aids function almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy movies, music, and more.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
Your next hearing aid may make individualized recommendations much like how a Fitbit informs you of fitness goals or how Netflix recommends your next movie in line with your viewing trend. Several manufacturers are working on hearing aids that will learn both from the adjustments you make and from listening to the places you go. Some take it one step further, crowdsourcing information on how people use their hearing aids anonymizing and then aggregating the data. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be able to use this information to identify what your situation is and make adjustments to provide you with the best audio experience.
Finally Losing The Batteries
Hearing aids that don’t need their batteries replaced? Sound too good to be true? After all, making sure you’ve got spare batteries on hand, or even taking time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be a pain in the, um, ear. While a hearing aid that doesn’t use any batteries at all might seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology keeps improving. That means longer in-use time, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, overall, not too bad.