It seems like all our devices are getting stronger, smarter, and more compact. In general, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
This is also true for hearing aids, and it’s not surprising. Though hearing problems have many different causes, hearing difficulties are more prevalent among older individuals, and the world’s population is getting older. About 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 best demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
If you’re dealing with hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Advancements are happening, here are a few.
Whole-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This one seems like it should be obvious. Health and fitness trackers have to be worn on the body. So, if you already have a device that’s in your ear… do you actually need another one on your wrist? The answer is no. If you have a newer hearing aid, it can most likely keep track of your pulse, physical activity along with fixing hearing issues like tinnitus. Certainly, a wearable like an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can provide you with other kinds of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend having conversations or listening. How much social engagement you get can actually be an important health metric, especially as you get older.
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the main focus here is connectivity. Audio from a device, like 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 allows them to use specific Bluetooth channels to stream uninterrupted audio directly to your hearing aid. This type of technology is helping hearing aids work almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy music, movies, and more.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Similar to how Netflix recommends shows and movies based on 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 committed your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid might make personalized suggestions. The places you visit and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being manufactured by several companies, to learn your habits. Some push it even further, crowdsourcing information on how people use their hearing aids anonymizing and then aggregating the data. All this information allows the hearing aids to figure out your tendencies and make adjustments on the fly so that if you’re at home watching TV or you’re in an IMAX theater (for instance), you’ll get the best sound.
Finally Losing The Batteries
Hearing aids that don’t require their batteries replaced? Sound too good to be true? It can be very inconvenient making sure you have extra batteries or that your hearing aids are completely charged. While we’re not likely to see hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a constant improvement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get faster charging time, extended use time, and worry less about batteries, which seems pretty good.