Hearing Health Blog

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

When was the last time you used that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t use one? Because that technology is centuries old. Okay, I suppose that seems logical. Ear trumpets are a bit… archaic.

The fundamental shape of the modern hearing aid was designed in the 1950s. And that old style hearing aid is generally the one we remember and picture. The problem is that a hearing aid built in the 1950s is just about as out-dated as a hearing trumpet. We need to really advance our thinking if we want to recognize how much more advanced modern hearing aids are.

The History of Hearing Aids

It’s useful to have some perspective about where hearing aids started so that you can better understand how sophisticated they have become. If we trace the history back far enough, you can most likely find some type of hearing assistance device as far back as the 1500s (though, there’s no proof that these wooden, ear-shaped items actually worked).

The first partially effective hearing assistance apparatus was most likely the ear trumpet. This device appeared to be a long trumpet. The wide end pointed out and the small end was directed into your ear. These, um, devices were not really high tech, but they did offer some measurable help.

Once electricity was introduced, hearing aids experienced a major innovation. In the 1950s the hearing aid that we are all familiar with was developed. In order to perform their function, they used large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a fairly basic design. But these gadgets signify the start of a hearing aid that could be easily worn and hidden. Admittedly, modern hearing aids might share the same form and function as those early 1950s designs–but their performance goes far beyond what was possible 70 years ago.

Hearing Aid’s Modern Features

Simply put, modern hearing aids are technological wonders. And they continue getting better. In numerous significant ways, modern hearing aids have been taking advantage of the digital technology of the later part of the twentieth century. The first, and the most crucial way, is simple: power. Modern hearing aids can store substantially more power into a much smaller area than their earlier forerunners.

And with that increased power comes a long list of innovative developments:

  • Health monitoring: State-of-the-art Health monitoring software is also integrated into modern hearing aid options. For example, some hearing aids can detect whether you’ve fallen. There are others that can keep you informed about your fitness goals such as how many steps that you have taken.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Modern hearing aids can now communicate with all of your Bluetooth devices. This can be incredibly helpful on a daily basis. As an example, hearing aids used to have a difficult time with phone calls because users would hear substantial (and sometimes unpleasant) feedback. With modern hearing aids, you can simply connect to your cellphone via Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. You will also utilize Bluetooth connectivity to take part in a variety of other electronic activities. Because there isn’t any interference or feedback, it’s easier to watch TV, listen to music–you name it.
  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss commonly manifests as loss of certain frequencies and wavelengths of sound. Maybe you have a more difficult time hearing high-frequency noises (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids are a lot more efficient because they are able to amplify only the frequencies you have a hard time hearing.
  • Speech recognition: For many hearing aid users, the biggest objective of these devices is to assist in communication. Isolating and boosting voices, then, is a primary function of the software of many hearing aids–which can be pretty helpful in a wide variety of situations, from a crowded restaurant to an echo-y board room.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids feel more comfortable because they are constructed from advanced materials. These new materials allow hearing aids to be lighter and more robust simultaneously. And with the addition of long-lasting, rechargeable batteries, it’s easy to see how not just the inside–but also the outside–of hearing aids have improved over the years.

Just like rotary phones no longer represent long-distance communication, older hearing aids no longer capture what these devices are. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And that’s a good thing–because now they’re even better.

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