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Woman wearing hearing aids climbing hill with family and laughing at a joke.

Have you used your ear trumpet lately? No? You don’t have one? Because that technology is centuries old. Okay, I suppose that seems logical. Ear trumpets are a bit… archaic.

The modern(ish) hearing aid, it turns out, was engineered during the 1950s–the basic shape, that is. And that old model hearing aid is generally the one we remember and envision. But visualizing a hearing aid like this isn’t realistic because those old hearing aids are antiquated technology. To understand just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unshackle our imaginations.

Hearing Aids, Then And Now

It’s helpful to have some perspective about where hearing aids started so that you can better comprehend how sophisticated they have become. As far back as the 1500s, it’s possible to come across some type of hearing aid (though, there’s no evidence that these wooden, ear-shaped items actually worked).

The first partially effective hearing assistance device was probably the ear trumpet. This device appeared to be a long horn. The wide end faced the world and the narrow end was directed into your ear. Nowadays, you wouldn’t consider this device high tech, but back then they actually offer some help.

When electricity was introduced, hearing aids had a significant innovation. In the 1950s the hearing aid as we know it was created. They were quite rudimentary, relying on transistors and big, primitive batteries to get the job done. But a hearing aid that could be conveniently worn and hidden began with these devices. Admittedly, modern hearing aids might share the same form and mission as those early 1950s designs–but their functionality goes far beyond what was conceivable 7 decades ago.

Hearing Aid’s Modern Capabilities

Put simply, modern hearing aids are technological wonders. And they’re constantly developing. Since the late twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been using digital technologies in a number of profound ways. Power is the first and most important way. Modern hearing aids can pack significantly more power into a much smaller space than their earlier predecessors.

And a long list of innovative developments come with increased power:

  • Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids are now able to communicate with other devices using wireless Bluetooth technology. This can be amazingly useful on a daily basis. As an example, hearing aids in the past had a tough time with phone calls because users would hear significant (and sometimes unpleasant) feedback. When you connect to your phone using Bluetooth, the transition is simple and communicating is easy. This is true for a wide range of other scenarios involving electronic devices. Because there isn’t any interference or feedback, it’s easier to listen to music, watch TV–you name it.
  • Health monitoring: Sophisticated Health tracking software is also included in modern hearing aid options. if you fall, for example, some hearing aids can detect that. Other features can count your steps or give you exercise support.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids are typically constructed out of high tech materials, so they feel more comfortable. While these new materials enable hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also enables them to be more robust. It’s easy to see how hearing aids have advanced on the outside as well as the inside with the addition of long lasting and rechargeable batteries.
  • Speech recognition: The biggest goal, for most hearing aid users, is to enhance communication. Isolating and amplifying voices, then, is a primary function of the software of many hearing aids–which can be very helpful in a wide variety of situations, from a packed restaurant to an echo-y board room.
  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss doesn’t occur across all wavelengths and frequencies uniformly. Perhaps you have a harder time hearing high-frequency sounds (or vice versa). Contemporary hearing aids can be programmed to boost only those sounds that you are unable to hear so well, resulting in a much more effective hearing aid.

Just as rotary phones no longer exemplify long-distance communication, the hearing aids of old no longer capture what these devices are. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And that’s a good thing–because now they’re even better.

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