Technology is developing into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. In general, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
So it’s no surprise that hearing aids are no different. Though hearing problems have a variety of causes, hearing difficulties are more common amongst older individuals, and the world’s population is aging. According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly 37.5 million individuals and 3 million Canadians report having trouble hearing, and because age is a better predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number is likely to go up.
Naturally, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, even one individual with trouble hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Better ways to minimize hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Innovations are happening, here are a few.
Whole-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This is so intuitive, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” innovations. Devices that provide different types of health tracking are nearly always worn and need to be worn close to the body. So, if you already have a device that’s in your ear… do you really need a separate one on your wrist? The answer is no. If you have the latest hearing aid, it probably can track your pulse, physical activity along with improving hearing issues such as tinnitus. Hearing aids also have the ability to monitor things that other wearables usually don’t, like the duration of conversations. How much social engagement you get can actually be an essential health metric, especially as you age.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the main emphasis here is connectivity. Audio from a device, like a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth capable. Google published open-source specifications for Android developers that show them how to use specific channels within Bluetooth to provide uninterrupted audio directly to hearing aids. This technology is making things like movies and music more enjoyable by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Your next hearing aid might make individualized suggestions similar to how a Fitbit alerts you to fitness goals or how Netflix recommends your next movie in line with your viewing trend. Several manufacturers are working on hearing aids that will learn both from the adjustments you make and from listening to the places you go. Some push it even further, crowdsourcing data on how individuals use their hearing aids anonymizing and then aggregating the data. All this info enables the hearing aids to determine your tendencies and make adjustments on the fly so that whether you’re watching TV at home or you’re at an IMAX theater (for instance), you’ll get the best sound.
Eliminating The Batteries For Good
We know, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t require batteries? After all, making certain you’ve got spare batteries with you, or even making time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be annoying. While we’re not likely to see hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a constant advancement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get faster charging time, extended use time, and worry less about batteries, which seems pretty good.