You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than just fiction. When it comes to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just raise the volume of sounds around you. Contemporary, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a form of technology that uses complex algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. In this way, AI algorithms participate in a kind of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. When the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each separate result.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal requirements depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear because of this.
How can you hear better with AI?
This may seem a bit abstract initially. After all, hearing aids seem to have a rather straightforward function. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with buttons and dials. (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better sound 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.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to emulate human brain responses. Because of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to conditions without being programmed to do so.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to suggest movies based on your viewing history, though it probably sounds like futuristic technology at first. Newer cars utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you make use of these devices, the more reliable they become at making correct decisions.
New advances in AI hearing aids
These days, 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:
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. In essence, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. When this is initiated AI will start working on cleaning 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 settings. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for instance. But even in a noisy environment, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio qualities come with each individual room you walk into. Some of those qualities 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.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were certainly harder during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. You can remain safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
This is likely only the start of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the field of audiology
These days, AI has kind of become a bit of a buzzword. Everybody’s heard it, which is good, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
First, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more useful to patients. This research includes new technologies, including deep neural networks and machine learning. But it isn’t just hearing aids. In the future, AI might be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
As the technology expands and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, in contrast to other industries. Some considerable advantages to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Here are a few of those benefits:
- 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 severity of your tumble. In some cases, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones if there is a major fall. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health information easier to understand.
- 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 by filtering out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn off those algorithms. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally means a better overall hearing experience.
- Social engagement: With regard to managing social interaction, people who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some research. This is likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of environments. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Most likely, it simply helps people who are already social better preserve their relationships.
What this means for patients
For people who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often translate into real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and respond the way your brain would, lowering background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will generate a location-by-location algorithm to address the various types of sounds it detects. These algorithms help when you return to a specific location or sound profile. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with everyday sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- The cognitive burden will be reduced.
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- You will have improved quality of life.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids until recently. After all, the device itself must do some extreme calculations (an algorithm, after all, is basically a very fancy math problem). But prices are coming down, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
That’s not 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 functionality. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more readily available.
Finding out what choice is best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the extra cost. To someone who is socially involved and finds themselves in conditions with many competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social scenarios, 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. Hearing aids will continue to improve as AI technology improves.
How can AI technology help you? Make an appointment with us right away.