You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than fiction. This is especially true with regard to hearing aids. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that simply raise the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a form of technology that utilizes sophisticated algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. AI is capable of using an algorithm to take part in a type of learning called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every specific result because the algorithm does that by itself.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make modifications depending on your behaviors and your needs. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear because of this.
How can you hear better with AI?
Initially, this could seem a bit abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can adding AI to the situation enhance things? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard full of switches and dials. (You’ve most likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Adjusting these settings can deliver better quality sound. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without needing you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a deep neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time situations because of this.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services recommend movies according to your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like futuristic technology at first. 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 appropriate decisions the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new advances
These days, hearing aids are incorporating multiple brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio properties come with each specific room you go into. Some of those properties are helpful for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. You will hear better in nearly any setting with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was masking up, which was good, but certainly 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 stay safe at the same time.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Basically, you can activate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a hard time hearing. This then activates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone settings. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for instance. But with an AI filtering out non-essential information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy setting.
Hearing aid producers and scientists are continuously innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the tip of the iceberg.
AI for the field of audiology
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can sometimes result in confusion. So with regard to the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are working on. New technologies, such as machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of this research. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. In the future, AI might be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
As the technology develops and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
Unlike some other industries, AI is not being integrated into hearing aids simply because it’s the popular new thing. These machine learning algorithms offer some significant benefits to patients. Here are some of those benefits:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can detect the seriousness of your fall. If there is a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, alert the Authorities. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health information easier to understand.
- Social engagement: With regard to dealing with social interaction, people who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some research. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which probably accounts for better social engagement. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Likely, it simply helps those who are already social better preserve their relationships.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn off those algorithms. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually means hearing better more often.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you will hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
What this means for patients
These benefits frequently become real-world advantages for those who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just boost the volume up. This isn’t useful because the conversation you actually care about will get overpowered by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while dulling unwanted noise.
AI will generate a location-by-location algorithm to deal with the various kinds of sounds it picks up. If you go back to a specific location or sound profile, AI can initiate these algorithms. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with day-to-day sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your quality of life will improve.
- The cognitive load will be decreased.
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t offered in most hearing aids until recent times. After all, the device itself has to perform some intense calculations (an algorithm, after all, is essentially a very elegant math problem). However, partially because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are beginning to go down.
That isn’t saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still may end up choosing a model that doesn’t have AI functionality. Clearly, patients will still have to make important choices. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more widely available.
Deciding what’s best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the extra cost. But AI makes a big difference for individuals who are socially active and go out into loud situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also useful for someone who is rapidly worn out in social scenarios where the chore of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less fatigued with AI hearing aids. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. Hearing aids will continue to improve as AI technology improves.
Want to find out how AI hearing aids can help you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.