Woman wearing hearing aids climbing hill with family and laughing at a joke.

Have you utilized your ear trumpet lately? No? You don’t have one? Because that technology is hundreds of years old. Okay, I suppose that makes sense. Ear trumpets are a bit… antiquated.

The fundamental shape of the modern hearing aid was designed in the 1950s. And that old model hearing aid is generally the one we remember and envision. The trouble is that a hearing aid developed in the 1950s is just about as out-dated as an ear trumpet. To comprehend just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unleash our imaginations.

The History of Hearing Aids

It’s useful to have some perspective concerning where hearing aids began so that you can better comprehend how sophisticated they have become. If we follow the history back far enough, you can probably find some form of hearing assistance device as far back as the 1500s (whether any of them ever really helped you improve your hearing is probably unlikely).

The first somewhat effective hearing assistance device was probably the ear trumpet. This device was shaped like, well, a long trumpet. You would put the narrow end inside your ear so that the wide end pointed out. Today, you wouldn’t think of this device as high tech, but back then they actually offer some help.

The real innovation came once electricity was invited to the party. In the 1950s the hearing aid that we are all familiar with was created. They were fairly basic, using transistors and large, antiquated batteries to get the job done. But a hearing aid that could be easily worn and hidden began with these devices. The hearing aids of the 1950s might have appeared comparable to modern hearing aids but the technology and capability is worlds apart.

Modern Capabilities of Hearing Aids

Put simply, modern hearing aids are technological masterpieces. And they’re always improving. Since the late twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been taking advantage of digital technologies in several significant ways. Power is the first and most essential way. Earlier models contained batteries which had less power in a bigger space than their modern counterparts.

And a number of cutting-edge advances come with greater power:

  • Construction: Modern hearing aids feel more comfortable because they are made of advanced materials. While these new materials enable hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also enables them to be more heavy-duty. It’s easy to see how hearing aids have improved on the outside as well as the inside with the addition of long lasting and rechargeable batteries.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids can now communicate with other devices using wireless Bluetooth technology. You will utilize this function on a daily basis. Older hearing aids, for instance, would have aggravating feedback when you would try to talk on the telephone. With modern hearing aids, you can simply connect to your cellphone using Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. You will also use Bluetooth functions to engage in a variety of other electronic activities. Because there’s no interference or feedback, it’s easier to listen to music, watch TV–you name it.
  • Speech recognition: The ultimate goal, for most hearing aid owners, is to facilitate communication. Separating and amplifying voices, then, is a principal feature of the software of many hearing aids–from a packed restaurant to an echo-y meeting hall, this feature comes in handy in many situations.
  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss does not manifest through all wavelengths and frequencies uniformly. Perhaps you have a more difficult time hearing high-frequency sounds (or vice versa). Contemporary hearing aids are much more efficient because they can amplify only the frequencies you have a difficult time hearing.
  • Health monitoring: Contemporary hearing aids are also able to incorporate sophisticated health tracking software into their options. if you have a fall, for instance, some hearing aids can detect that. Other features can count your steps or give you exercise motivation.

The older style hearing aids no longer represent what hearing aids are, in the same way as rotary phones no longer illustrate what long distance communication looks like. Hearing aids aren’t what they once were. And that’s a positive thing–because now they’re even better.

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