When somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it may conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all better get used to. With regard to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just increase the volume of sounds around you. Contemporary, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a form of technology that uses complex algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. AI is able to use an algorithm to engage in a type of learning called “machine learning”. As soon as the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each individual result.
Depending on the degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make changes depending on your routines and your requirements. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How does AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
At first, this may seem a bit abstract. After all, hearing aids appear to have a fairly basic function. How can adding AI to the situation enhance things? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with buttons and dials. (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid contains one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Better sound quality can be obtained by adjusting these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without needing you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a deep neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time conditions because of this.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services suggest movies according to your viewing history, though it probably sounds like futuristic technology at first. AI is also encountered in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more adept at making correct choices the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Basically, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. This then triggers the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but certainly made conversations with a hearing aid more challenging. You can remain safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own unique acoustic characteristics. Some of those qualities are good for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic corrections that allow you to hear better in just about any setting.
- 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 instance, 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 person across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy environment.
Hearing aid manufacturers and scientists are continuously developing new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the tip of the iceberg.
How is AI employed in the field of audiology?
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Everybody’s heard it, which is good, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
First off, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more beneficial to patients. This research includes new technologies, such as deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. In the future, AI may be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
Patients will find AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, in contrast to other industries. These machine learning algorithms provide some significant benefits to patients. Here are some of those benefits:
- Social engagement: Studies have shown that those who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to dealing with their social engagement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which likely accounts for better social engagement. That said, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life healthy. It most likely just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally means a better overall hearing experience.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be able to detect the significance and severity of your tumble. If there is 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 information easier to interpret.
What this means for patients
For individuals with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often become real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. This isn’t useful because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and respond the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI learns to recognize sounds and generates a location-by-location algorithm. These algorithms help when you return to a specific location or sound profile. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with day-to-day sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your brain will have a lower cognitive burden.
- Your quality of life will improve.
- You will feel less aggravated because you will be able to hear better.
In other words, it’ll be easier to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Reward vs. cost
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids until recently. After all, the device itself must perform some intense calculations (an algorithm, after all, is basically a very elegant math problem). However, in part because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are starting to go down.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want might have AI, or even that those hearing aids will automatically be less costly in the near future. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more readily available.
Finding out what option is best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be too much for somebody who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in conditions with many competing sounds, however, it makes a huge difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also helpful for somebody who is quickly worn out in social scenarios where the chore of keeping up with conversations using a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. AI-powered hearing aids decrease the listener’s fatigue 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 too.
Want to find out how AI hearing aids can help you? Make an appointment with us right away.