It seems as if all our devices are getting smarter, stronger, and smaller. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
This is also true for hearing aids, and it’s not a surprise. Though hearing problems have a number of causes, hearing issues are more prevalent amongst older individuals, and the world’s population is getting older. Around 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe some amount of hearing loss according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is rising because age is the strongest demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Naturally, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, even one individual with difficulty hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Better ways to minimize hearing loss? Let’s have them! Here are some of the innovations that are happening.
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 provide different kinds of health tracking are almost always worn and 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? The answer is no. Or at least, you don’t with some of the latest hearing aids, which in addition to helping correct for hearing difficulties like tinnitus, will also keep track of your pulse, your physical activity, and a whole lot more. Hearing aids also have the ability to monitor things that other wearables normally don’t, like the duration of conversations. Particularly as you get older, your level of social engagement can actually be an important health metric.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the main emphasis 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 provided by Google which lets them use certain Bluetooth channels to stream uninterrupted audio straight to your hearing aid. This technology is making things like movies and music more satisfying by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Similar to how Netflix recommends shows and movies according to what you’ve watched previously, 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 everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid could 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 take it one step further, crowdsourcing data on how people use their hearing aids anonymizing and then aggregating the data. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be capable of using this information to recognize what your situation is and make adjustments to provide you with the most enjoyable audio experience.
Finally Losing The Batteries
Hearing aids that don’t need their batteries changed? Sound too good to be true? It can be very inconvenient making certain you have spare 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 keeps improving. That means longer time in use, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, overall, not too shabby.