When somebody talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it may conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get accustomed to. When it comes to hearing aids, this is particularly true. The times when hearing aids merely boosted the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids use AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a form of technology that makes use of sophisticated algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. AI is able to use an algorithm to engage in a kind of learning known as “machine learning”. As soon as the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each individual result.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make adjustments depending on your routines and your needs. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How does AI help hearing aids work better?
This may seem a bit abstract at first. After all, hearing aids seem to have a pretty straightforward function. How can adding AI to the situation enhance things? Well, you know that row of big knobs and switches that people use to mix music in recording studios? (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better sound quality can be obtained by modifying these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without needing you to do anything.
These smart devices use a deep neural network to imitate human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time conditions because of this.
This may sound like space-age science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming according to your viewing history. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier utilizes it to auto-sort emails 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. Here are some of the best examples:
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has a lot of echoes, or is extremely loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. Cross talk, for example, can often be difficult 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 crowded or noisy setting.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. Essentially, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. This then initiates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were undoubtedly harder during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and remain safe simultaneously.
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio properties come with each individual room you walk into. Some of those qualities are good for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effectively make automatic corrections that let you hear better in nearly any setting.
Hearing aid producers and scientists are constantly developing new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the beginning.
AI for the field of audiology
These days, AI has kind of become something of a buzzword. Everybody’s heard it, which is good, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are working on. This research includes new technologies, including deep neural networks and machine learning. But it’s not just hearing aids. In the future, AI might be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, in contrast to other industries. Some considerable benefits to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Among those benefits are the following:
- 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 wearers will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this usually means a better all-around hearing experience.
- 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 myriad of other devices. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you will hear is the sound you really want to hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be able to detect the significance and seriousness of your tumble. In some cases, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones in the event of a major fall. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
- Social engagement: Studies have shown that individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful in terms of managing their social engagement. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a wider variety of settings. That said, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life afloat. It probably just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
How does this affect patients?
For people who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently translate into real-world advantages. 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 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 will generate a location-by-location algorithm to deal with the various types of sounds it picks up. These programs help when you return to a particular location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with day-to-day sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- Your brain will experience a decreased cognitive load.
- Your quality of life will improve.
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 available in the majority of hearing aids until recent times. After all, the device itself has to do some extreme calculations (an algorithm, after all, is essentially a very fancy math problem). However, partially 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 may 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 prevalent and more readily available.
Finding out what choice is best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be too much for someone who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. To somebody who is socially active and finds themselves in conditions with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a huge difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also useful for somebody who is rapidly worn out in social scenarios where the task of keeping up with conversations using a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. AI-powered hearing aids reduce the listener’s fatigue and make social situations more enjoyable. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. As technology and AI develop, hearing aids will continue to too.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can work for you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.