It seems like all our devices are getting smarter, stronger, and more compact. Being smaller while having more functionality is the overall trend.
This is also true for hearing aids, and it’s not surprising. Though hearing problems have many different causes, hearing difficulties are more prevalent among older people, and the world’s population is aging. According to the National Institutes of Health, around 37.5 million individuals and 3 million Canadians report having difficulty hearing, and since age is a better predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number will probably increase.
Naturally, if you’re dealing with hearing loss, even one individual with trouble hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Better ways to decrease hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Advancements are happening, here are some.
Whole-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This is so intuitive, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” innovations. Devices that offer different types of health tracking are nearly always worn and have to be worn close to the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? The answer is no. Or at least, you don’t with some of the latest hearing aids, which in addition to helping fix hearing difficulties such as tinnitus, will also keep track of your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Hearing aids also have the ability to track things that other wearables normally don’t, like the time spent conversing. How much social engagement you get can actually be an essential health metric, especially as you get older.
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 offer Bluetooth capabilities now let users stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for example, to the hearing aids. Google published open-source specifications for Android developers that show them how to use specific channels within Bluetooth to produce uninterrupted audio straight to hearing aids. This type of technology is helping hearing aids function almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy movies, music, and more.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
In a similar way to how Netflix recommends shows and movies based on what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a milestone (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how ambitious your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid could make personalized suggestions. 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 individuals use their hearing aids anonymizing and then aggregating the data. All this information enables the hearing aids to ascertain your tendencies and make adjustments on the fly so that whether you’re at home watching TV or you’re in an IMAX theater (for example), you’ll get the best sound.
Eliminating The Batteries For Good
Ya, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? It can be really 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 may seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology continues to improve. That means longer in-use time, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, overall, not too shabby.