When somebody talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it may arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all better get accustomed to. This is especially true with regard to hearing aids. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just increase the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that uses data inputs to generate new results. AI is able to use an algorithm to engage in a type of learning called “machine learning”. Once the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each individual result.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal requirements depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear as a result.
How does AI help hearing aids work better?
This might seem a little abstract at first. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard full of switches and knobs. (You’ve most likely seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better quality of sound can be obtained by modifying these settings. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, improving the way you hear without any hassle by you.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to re-create human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time conditions because of this.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services suggest movies based on your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like futuristic technology at first. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you make use of these devices, the more efficient they become at making correct decisions.
New advances in AI hearing aids
Presently, hearing aids are integrating several brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone settings. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for instance. But with an AI filtering out non-essential information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy environment.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own unique acoustic properties. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic corrections that let you hear better in just about any environment.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Essentially, you can initiate something called edge mode whenever you’re having a difficult time hearing. This then triggers the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were definitely harder during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. You can remain safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
This is likely only the beginning of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the field of audiology
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Everybody’s heard it, which is okay, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So in terms of the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
First off, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more useful to patients. This research includes new technologies, such as deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. In the future, AI might be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
As the technology expands and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
Unlike some other industries, AI is not being incorporated into hearing aids just because it’s the popular new fad. These machine learning algorithms provide some significant benefits to patients. Among those benefits are the following:
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you will hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this usually translates into hearing better more often.
- Social engagement: Studies have revealed that individuals who wear AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to managing their social involvement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which likely accounts for better social engagement. Having said that, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life healthy. It most likely just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
- 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 seriousness of your tumble. In the event of a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, notify the Authorities. AI can also make your health information easier to understand, helping you identify when you should be moving more, eating healthier, or just hydrating more.
How does this affect patients?
These benefits frequently result in real-world advantages for individuals with these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while lowering unwanted noise.
AI learns to recognize sounds and creates a location-by-location algorithm. 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 advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- The cognitive burden will be reduced.
- Your quality of life will get better.
In other words, it’ll be easier to follow along with your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI was not available in the vast majority of hearing aids due to the costs involved. After all, the device itself has to do some intense calculations (an algorithm, of course, is essentially a very elegant math problem). However, in part because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are beginning to go down.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want might have AI, or even that those hearing aids will automatically be less expensive in the near future. Clearly, 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 widely available.
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 extra cost. To somebody who is socially active and finds themselves in scenarios with many competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. Social situations are simpler and the user will feel less fatigued with AI hearing aids. 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. Hearing aids will keep improving as AI technology improves.
Want to find out how AI hearing aids can help you? Make an appointment with us right away.