It seems like all our devices are getting stronger, smarter, and more compact. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices have more features and take up less space.
Hearing aids are no exception, and it’s not surprising. The world’s population is aging and hearing issues, though they can have a variety of causes, are more common amongst older individuals. According to the National Institutes of Health, around 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe having difficulty hearing, and since age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number will probably increase.
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing loss? Let’s have them! Innovations are happening, here are some.
Using your hearing aid to track your entire body
This is so intuitive, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” developments. Health and fitness trackers have to be worn on the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? Nope! If you have a newer hearing aid, it probably can track your pulse, physical activity along with correcting hearing issues like tinnitus. Hearing aids can also track things that other wearables normally don’t, like the duration of conversations. How much social engagement you get can actually be an essential health metric, particularly as you age.
Better streaming straight to you
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the primary focus here is connectivity. Audio from a device, such as a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth compatible. Android developers now have open-source specs supplied by Google which lets them use certain Bluetooth channels to stream uninterrupted audio directly to your hearing aid. This technology is making things like movies and music more enjoyable by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Smart adjustments from big data
In a similar way to how Netflix recommends shows and movies according to what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit buzzes to let you know you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how committed your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid may make personalized recommendations. 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 go as far as to crowdsource data about people’s utilization habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. All this info allows the hearing aids to ascertain your tendencies and make adjustments on the fly so that if you’re at home watching TV or you’re in an IMAX theater (for instance), you’ll get the best sound.
Getting rid of the batteries once and for all
We know, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t require batteries? It can be very inconvenient making sure you have extra batteries or that your hearing aids are fully charged. While a hearing aid that doesn’t use any batteries at all might seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology continues to improve. That means longer time in use, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, overall, not too shabby.