When somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it may arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get used to. With regard to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just increase the volume of sounds around you. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids use AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a type of technology that uses complex algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. AI is capable of using an algorithm to participate 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 generate each individual result.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make changes depending on your routines and your requirements. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear as a result.
How does AI help hearing aids work better?
Initially, this could seem a little abstract. After all, hearing aids appear to have a rather basic function. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, you know that row of big knobs and switches that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better audio quality can be obtained by altering these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without requiring you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a deep neural network. Because of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to situations without being programmed to do so.
This might sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to recommend programming based on your viewing history. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier utilizes it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. These devices become more expert at making appropriate choices the more you use them.
New advances in AI hearing aids
Presently, hearing aids are incorporating multiple brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the most relevant examples include the following:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was masking up, which was good, but certainly made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. You can stay safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone locations. Cross talk, for instance, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But even in a loud setting, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Basically, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. This then triggers the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own unique acoustic characteristics. Some of those properties are helpful for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effectively make automatic corrections that allow you to hear better in just about any environment.
This is likely only the start of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI utilized in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has sort of become something of a buzzword. Everyone’s heard it, which is good, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more useful for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are tackling. New technologies, including machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of this research. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will likely do in the future.
Patients will see 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 integrated into hearing aids just because it’s the popular new thing. Some significant advantages to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Among those advantages are the following:
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this usually means a better overall 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 range of other devices. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can determine the severity of your fall. In the event of a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, notify the Authorities. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health data easier to understand.
- Social engagement: Studies have shown that those who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful when it comes to managing their social involvement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide spectrum of settings, which most likely accounts for better social interaction. That said, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life healthy. Likely, it simply helps people who are already social better manage their relationships.
How does this affect patients?
These benefits often result in real-world advantages for those with these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. If you had an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will generate a location-by-location program to address the various kinds of sounds it detects. If you return to a specific location or sound profile, AI can initiate these algorithms. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your quality of life will get better.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- Your brain will experience a decreased cognitive burden.
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t available in the majority of hearing aids until recently. An algorithm is, in fact, an intricate math equation. However, in part because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are beginning to go down.
That isn’t saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still might end up wanting a model that doesn’t include AI capabilities. Obviously, patients will still have to make important choices. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more widely available.
Figuring out what option is best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be too much for someone who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. But AI makes a huge difference for individuals who are socially active and go out into noisy situations a lot.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. AI-powered hearing aids reduce 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 as well.
How can AI technology help you? Contact us to schedule an appointment!