When someone talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it might conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all better get accustomed to. This is particularly true with regard to hearing aids. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely raise the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to produce new results. In this way, AI algorithms take part in a type of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every individual result because the algorithm does that on its own.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make adjustments depending on your routines and your needs. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
At first, this may seem a bit abstract. After all, hearing aids appear to have a fairly basic function. How can adding AI to the mix enhance things? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard full of buttons and knobs. (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better quality of sound can be attained by adjusting these settings. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, improving how you hear without any work on your part.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a rich neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time situations because of this.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services suggest movies according to your viewing history, though it probably sounds like space-aged technology initially. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more proficient at making correct decisions the more you use them.
New improvements in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio qualities come with each specific room you go into. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. You will hear better in almost any setting with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was masking up, which was good, but certainly made conversations with a hearing aid more difficult. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and stay safe simultaneously.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. Essentially, you can initiate something called edge mode whenever you’re having a tough time hearing. When this is triggered AI will start working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has a lot of echoes, or is excessively loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. Cross talk, for example, can often be hard on a hearing aid. But even in a noisy environment, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the person across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
This is most likely only the start of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can occasionally lead to confusion. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
First, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more helpful to patients. New technologies, like machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But it’s not just hearing aids. In the future, AI may 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 find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
In contrast to some other industries, AI is not being incorporated into hearing aids simply because it’s the popular new fad. Some significant benefits to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Among those advantages are the following:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be able to detect the significance and severity of your tumble. If there is a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, alert the Authorities. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
- Social engagement: Studies have shown that people who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful in terms of dealing with their social engagement. This is most likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of settings. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Most likely, it simply helps those who are already social better preserve their relationships.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from lots 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 will hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this often translates into hearing better more frequently.
How does this affect patients?
These benefits frequently result in real-world advantages for those who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. 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, lowering background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will generate a location-by-location algorithm to address the various kinds of sounds it detects. These programs help when you go back 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 benefits to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- The cognitive burden will be decreased.
- Your quality of life will improve.
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Reward vs. cost
There was a time when AI wasn’t available in the vast majority of hearing aids due to the costs involved. After all, the device itself must perform some intense calculations (an algorithm, of course, is basically a very fancy math problem). However, in part because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are starting to go down.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still may end up choosing a model that doesn’t have AI capabilities. Clearly, patients will still have to make important choices. But AI features are becoming more widely available and prevalent.
Finding out what choice is best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the added cost. But AI makes a huge difference for people who are socially involved and go out into noisy situations a lot.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less fatigued with AI hearing aids. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and 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.