You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But nowadays, AI is more science than fiction. When it comes to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely increase the volume of sounds around you. Modern, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a form of technology that utilizes sophisticated algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. In this way, AI algorithms participate in a kind of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every specific result because the algorithm does that on its own.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal needs depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear because of this.
How does AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
This might feel 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 switches that people use to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid contains one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Better audio quality can be achieved by modifying these settings. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, improving how you hear without any work by you.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a rich neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time situations because of this.
This may sound like space-age science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming according to your viewing history. Newer cars utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. These devices become more expert at making correct choices the more you use them.
New improvements in AI hearing aids
Presently, hearing aids are incorporating several brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. In essence, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. When this is initiated AI will start working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was wearing masks, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and remain safe at the same time.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone settings. Cross talk, for example, can often be hard 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.
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio properties come with each specific room you walk into. Some of those properties are helpful for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effectively make automatic adjustments that allow you to hear better in nearly any setting.
This is most likely only the beginning of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the discipline of audiology
These days, AI has sort of become something of a buzzword. Everyone’s heard it, which is good, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. 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. New technologies, including machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But it’s not just hearing aids. In the future, AI may be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
In contrast to some other industries, AI is not being integrated into hearing aids just because it’s the popular new fad. Some significant benefits to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Here are a few of those benefits:
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from lots of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a myriad 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.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can detect the seriousness of your fall. In the event of a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, notify the Authorities. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to understand.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this normally translates into hearing better more frequently.
- 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 studies. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a wider variety of environments. That said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life afloat. It most likely just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
What this means for patients
For people with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often result in real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. This isn’t helpful because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will create a location-by-location algorithm to address the various kinds of sounds it detects. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can activate these programs. In order to better identify and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with everyday sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- Your quality of life will get better.
- Your brain will have a lower cognitive burden.
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t offered in the majority of hearing aids until recent times. After all, the device itself has to do some extreme calculations (an algorithm, of course, is basically a very fancy math problem). But prices are decreasing, partially due to the prevalence of the technology.
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 include AI capabilities. Clearly, patients will still have to make important decisions. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more readily available.
Figuring out what option is best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be too much for somebody who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. To someone who is socially involved and finds themselves in scenarios with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. AI-powered hearing aids reduce the listener’s exhaustion and make social situations more enjoyable. When the doorbell rings, or when you have a fall AI technology can alert you or a loved one and it can even track your steps. As technology and AI develop, hearing aids will continue to as well.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can work for you? Give us a call to set up an appointment!