When somebody talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it might conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get accustomed to. This is particularly true with regard to hearing aids. The days when hearing aids simply boosted the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. Contemporary, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a type of technology that makes use of sophisticated algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. In doing this, AI algorithms engage in a kind of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every specific result because the algorithm does that by itself.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make adjustments depending on your behaviors and your needs. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear because of this.
How can you hear better with AI?
This may seem a little abstract initially. After all, hearing aids seem to have a fairly straightforward function. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, you know that row of big knobs and buttons that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve probably seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid contains one of those! (It’s tiny.) Altering these settings can deliver better sound quality. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing how you hear without any work on your part.
These smart devices use a deep neural network to emulate human brain responses. As a result of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to conditions without being programmed to do so.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to suggest movies according to your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like space-aged technology at first. AI is also encountered in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you use these devices, the more efficient they become at making correct decisions.
AI hearing aids – new advances
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Basically, you can activate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a tough time hearing. When this is triggered AI will start working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were definitely harder during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. You can stay safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has lots of echoes, or is extremely loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. Cross talk, for instance, can often be hard on a hearing aid. But with an AI filtering out non-essential information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy environment.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own distinct acoustic characteristics. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it doesn’t do so well with. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic adjustments that let you hear better in nearly any setting.
Hearing aid manufacturers and scientists are continuously developing new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the beginning.
How is AI utilized in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has kind of become a bit of a buzzword. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can occasionally cause confusion. So with regard to the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are working on. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. In the future, AI might be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
In contrast to some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids simply because it’s the hot new thing. Some significant benefits to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Here are some of those benefits:
- Social engagement: With regard to managing social interaction, people who use AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some research. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which likely accounts for better social interaction. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. 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 a wide variety of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a range of other devices. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be able to detect the significance and seriousness of your tumble. If there is a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, alert the Authorities. AI can also make your health data easier to understand, helping you identify when you should be moving more, eating healthier, or just hydrating more.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this usually means hearing better more often.
What this means for patients
These benefits often translate into real-world advantages for those with these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while lowering undesired noise.
AI learns to identify sounds and generates a location-by-location algorithm. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can activate these algorithms. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with day-to-day sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your quality of life will get better.
- The cognitive burden will be decreased.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Reward vs. cost
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t offered in the majority of hearing aids until recently. An algorithm is, in fact, an intricate math equation. But prices are coming down, partially due to the prevalence of the technology.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less pricey in the near future. Obviously, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more readily available.
Finding out what choice is best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the extra cost. To someone who is socially active and finds themselves in situations with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also useful for someone who is rapidly worn out in social scenarios where the task of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. AI-powered hearing aids decrease the listener’s exhaustion and make social situations more enjoyable. When the doorbell rings, or when you have a fall AI technology can alert you or a loved one and it can even track your steps. As technology and AI improve, hearing aids will continue to too.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can help you? Give us a call to schedule an appointment!