Flexibility and versatility. What do these mean to you? Well, to the hearing impaired, this can make all the difference. These two benefits of digital hearing aids are owed to the advent of innovative wireless technology and microelectronics. Digital hearing aids have only been around for about 15 years, but they’ve come a long way since the analog hearing aids that predated them. It seems we’ve come very far since the early 1800s when ear trumpets came out. Advancements have come fast one after another, progressing from analog to digital in the present day. While some are available with remote controls that allow the user to adjust various settings, others come with omni-directional microphones to detect sound from multiple directions. Now, each device can be programmed according to user preference and hearing loss degrees. Here we examine the progression of digital aids.
The First Digital Hearing Aids
The initial digital hearing aids were great for helping along processing speeds which improved the ability to hear. Range of amplification was also greatly improved. The first digital hearing aids featured DSP for digital noise reduction, technically standing for digital signal processing. 1996 was the first year that saw this advancement.
Digital Noise Reduction (DNR)
Luckily, digital noise reduction DNR technology addresses the physical characteristics of noise and speech rather than the separation of space. DNR came about after directional microphones, which helped but didn’t address certain traits within speech modulation.
Single Sided Deafness
CROS devices and bone conduction devices now make it easier for the hearing aid wearer to receive signals from the bad ear and send them to the good ear for ease of use. Before, people suffering from single-sided deafness only had one option before: listen with their good ear. This became increasingly difficult in crowds and other situations with lots of background noise.
You may realize that modern hearing aids can easily filter out that noise so that the user can hear words but not all the other stuff. Well, improvements in wireless technology have allowed for improved speech recognition and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Many user formerly complained of hearing aids that make it hard to hear clearly with all the background noise. Older hearing aids amplified all sound, which was great for hearing words but this also presented an added challenge of filtering out the background noise that was also amplified. Many manufacturers now incorporate new technology through the use of digital magnetic wireless communication.
Due to the proliferation of self-learning or regulating tendencies, so-called smart hearing aids can adjust settings like volume automatically after a period of time as far as user preferences go. This action puts the wearer in control.
The future has definitely opened up for the use of digital hearing aids. Hearing impaired individuals can improve their daily lives through the implementation of innovative wireless technology and microelectronics.