When somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it may conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But nowadays, AI is more science than just fiction. With regard to hearing aids, this is particularly true. The times when hearing aids simply boosted the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a type of technology that utilizes complex algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. In doing this, AI algorithms engage in a kind of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. When the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each separate result.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal requirements based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear as a result.
How can you hear better with AI?
This might seem a bit abstract initially. After all, hearing aids seem to have a pretty basic function. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard full of switches and knobs. (You’ve most likely seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better sound quality can be achieved by adjusting these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without requiring you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a rich neural network. Because of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to conditions without being programmed to do so.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services recommend movies based on your viewing history, though it probably sounds like futuristic technology initially. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you make use of these devices, the more reliable they become at making correct decisions.
AI hearing aids – new advances
These days, hearing aids are incorporating multiple brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Here are some of the best examples:
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own distinct acoustic properties. Some of those qualities are helpful for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. You will hear better in nearly any environment with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone locations. A hearing aid can have a difficult time with cross-talk, for instance. But even in a noisy setting, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the person across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Basically, you can initiate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a tough time hearing. When this is initiated AI will start working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. You can stay safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
Hearing aid producers and scientists are continuously innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the beginning.
How is AI utilized in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has sort of become something of a buzzword. Everybody’s heard it, which is okay, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So in terms of the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
First off, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more beneficial to patients. New technologies, such as machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of this research. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will likely do in the future.
As the technology grows and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids simply because it’s the hot new thing. These machine learning algorithms provide some considerable benefits to patients. Among those benefits are the following:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can detect the severity of your fall. If there is a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, notify the Authorities. AI can also make your health information easier to interpret, helping you know when you should be moving more, eating healthier, or just hydrating more.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn off those algorithms. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this often translates into hearing better more frequently.
- Social engagement: When it comes to dealing with social interaction, individuals who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some research. This is most likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of environments. With that being said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life healthy. It probably just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
- 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. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you actually want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
What this means for patients
These benefits frequently become 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 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 unwanted noise.
AI will create a location-by-location algorithm to deal with the various types of sounds it picks up. These algorithms help when you go back to a particular location or sound profile. In order to better identify and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with day-to-day sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- Your brain will have a decreased cognitive load.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- You will have improved quality of life.
In other words, it’ll be easier to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids until recently. An algorithm is, after all, an intricate math equation. However, in part because of the prevalence 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 necessarily be less pricey in the near future. Clearly, patients will still have to make important decisions. But AI features are becoming more widely available and prevalent.
Deciding what’s best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the added cost. To someone who is socially involved and finds themselves in scenarios with many competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also helpful for somebody who is quickly worn out in social scenarios where the chore of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. Social situations are easier 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 work for you? Give us a call to set up an appointment!