When someone talks about 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 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-day, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to produce new results. In doing this, 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 amount of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make adjustments depending on your behaviors and your requirements. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How does AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
This may seem a little abstract initially. After all, hearing aids appear to have a pretty straightforward function. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard full of buttons and dials. (You’ve most likely seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Altering these settings can deliver better quality sound. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without requiring 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 recommend programming according to your viewing history. Newer cars utilize 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 proficient at making correct decisions the more you use them.
New advances in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Here are some of the best examples:
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Essentially, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. When this is initiated AI will start working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
- 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 with an AI filtering out non-imperative information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy setting.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was masking up, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more challenging. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping those with hearing aids hear better and stay safe simultaneously.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own unique acoustic characteristics. Some of those properties are good for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. You will hear better in almost any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
Hearing aid producers and scientists are constantly innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the tip of the iceberg.
How is AI employed in the field of audiology?
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Depending on the context, AI does different things, which can in some cases cause confusion. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are tackling. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will most likely do in the future.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
In contrast to some other industries, AI is not being integrated into hearing aids just because it’s the popular new thing. Some considerable advantages to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Here are a few of those benefits:
- Social engagement: Studies have shown that people who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to managing their social engagement. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a wider variety of environments. That said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life afloat. Most likely, it simply helps people who are already social better manage their relationships.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally 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 the event of a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, alert the Authorities. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to understand.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this normally translates into hearing better more frequently.
- 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. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
How does this impact patients?
For individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often lead to real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. If you had an older-style hearing aid, it would just boost the volume up. This isn’t helpful because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out 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 will create a location-by-location algorithm to deal with the various types of sounds it picks up. These algorithms help when you go back to a particular location or sound profile. In order to better identify and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with everyday sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your brain will have a reduced cognitive load.
- You will have improved quality of life.
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
In other words, it’ll be simpler to follow along with your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite friends, and take care of your favorite brain.
Reward vs. cost
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t offered in most hearing aids until recent times. An algorithm is, after all, a complex math equation. However, partially because of the prevalence 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 expensive in the near future. Clearly, patients will still have to make important decisions. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more widely available.
Figuring out what choice is best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the additional cost. To someone who is socially active and finds themselves in situations with many competing sounds, however, it makes a huge difference.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less tired with AI hearing aids. 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.