You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get accustomed to. With regard to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just raise the volume of sounds around you. Modern, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a sophisticated computer algorithm that uses data inputs to generate new results. In this way, AI algorithms take part in a kind of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. As soon as the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each individual result.
Depending on the degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make modifications depending on your behaviors and your requirements. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear because of this.
How can you hear better with AI?
At first, this may seem a little abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can adding AI to the mix enhance things? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard full of switches and dials. (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid includes one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Changing these settings can provide better quality sound. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing the way you hear without any work by you.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to imitate human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time conditions because of this.
This may sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming according to your viewing history. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email provider uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you utilize these devices, the more reliable they become at making proper decisions.
AI hearing aids – new advances
Presently, hearing aids are incorporating several brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were undoubtedly more difficult during the pandemic when everyone was wearing a facemask. You can stay safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own unique acoustic properties. 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.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone locations. A hearing aid can have a difficult time with cross-talk, for example. But even in a noisy setting, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the person across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. In essence, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. When this is activated AI will begin working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
Hearing aid manufacturers and scientists are constantly developing new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the beginning.
AI for the field of audiology
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can occasionally cause confusion. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more useful for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are working on. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But it’s not just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will likely do in the future.
Patients will find AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
In contrast to some other industries, AI is not being incorporated into hearing aids simply 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:
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn off those algorithms. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this normally means a better all-around hearing experience.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from a wide variety of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a myriad of other devices. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you will hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can detect the severity of your fall. In the event of a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, notify the Authorities. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health information easier to interpret.
- Social engagement: Studies have revealed that people who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful in terms of managing their social engagement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which most likely accounts for better social engagement. Having said that, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life afloat. Likely, it simply helps those who are already social better preserve their relationships.
How does this impact patients?
For individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often translate into real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. This isn’t useful because the conversation you actually care about will get overpowered by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in 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 creates a location-by-location algorithm. These algorithms help when you return to a specific location or sound profile. 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:
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
- Your quality of life will improve.
- Your brain will have a reduced cognitive burden.
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 the majority of hearing aids until recent times. After all, the device itself has to perform some extreme calculations (an algorithm, of course, is essentially a very fancy math problem). However, in part because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are beginning to go down.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still may wind up choosing a model that doesn’t have AI functionality. Clearly, patients will still have to make important decisions. But AI functions are becoming more widely available and common.
Deciding what’s best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the extra cost. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in conditions with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. 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 improve, hearing aids will continue to too.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can help you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.