You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But nowadays, AI is more science than just fiction. When it comes to hearing aids, this is especially true. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just raise the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that utilizes data inputs to generate new results. AI is capable of using an algorithm to take part in a type of learning known as “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every individual result because the algorithm does that on its own.
Depending on the amount of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make changes depending on your routines and your needs. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can AI help hearing aids work better?
At first, this could seem a bit abstract. After all, hearing aids appear to have a pretty straightforward function. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, you know that row of big dials and buttons that people use to mix music in recording studios? (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Changing these settings can provide better quality sound. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without needing you to do anything.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to emulate human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time conditions because of this.
This might sound like space-age science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming based on your viewing history. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more proficient at making appropriate decisions the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Some of the most relevant instances include the following:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was masking up, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. You can remain safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a setting that has lots of echoes, or is overly loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. A hearing aid can have a difficult time with cross-talk, for instance. But even in a loud setting, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Essentially, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. When this is activated AI will begin working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio properties come with each specific room you walk into. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic adjustments that let you hear better in almost any setting.
This is most likely only the beginning of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI employed in the field of audiology?
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can in some cases lead to confusion. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
First off, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more useful to patients. This research includes new technologies, such as deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will likely do in the future.
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 benefits
In contrast to some other industries, AI isn’t being integrated into hearing aids just because it’s the popular new fad. These machine learning algorithms provide some significant advantages to patients. 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 range of other devices. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you really want to hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be capable of detecting the significance and seriousness of your tumble. In some situations, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a severe fall. AI can also make your health data easier to interpret, helping you identify when you should be moving more, eating better, or just hydrating more.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this often means hearing better more frequently.
- Social engagement: With regard to dealing with social interaction, individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some studies. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which likely accounts for better social interaction. With that being said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life healthy. It most likely just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
How does this impact patients?
These benefits often result in real-world advantages for people with these AI-assisted hearing aids. 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. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while lowering unwanted noise.
AI learns to identify sounds and generates a location-by-location program. If you return to a particular location or sound profile, AI can activate these programs. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your quality of life will improve.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- Your brain will experience a reduced cognitive load.
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
There was a time when AI was not available in most hearing aids due to the costs involved. An algorithm is, after all, a complex math equation. But prices are coming down, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want might have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less pricey in the near future. Clearly, patients will still need to make important choices. But AI features are becoming more widely obtainable and common.
Finding out what choice is best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the additional cost. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in situations with many competing sounds, however, it makes a huge difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also helpful for somebody 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 simpler 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. As technology and AI develop, hearing aids will continue to as well.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can work for you? Call us to set up an appointment!