When someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it might conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But these days, AI is more science than just fiction. This is especially 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. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a type of technology that makes use of complex algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. AI is able to use an algorithm to take part in a kind of learning known as “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every individual result because the algorithm does that on its own.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal requirements depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear because of this.
How can you hear better with AI?
This might feel a little abstract initially. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can adding AI to the mix enhance things? Well, you know that row of big dials and switches that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve probably seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Changing these settings can provide better quality sound. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without needing 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 situations without being programmed to do so.
This might sound like space-age science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming based on your viewing history. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more adept at making correct choices the more you use them.
New advances in AI hearing aids
Presently, hearing aids are integrating several brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the most relevant instances include the following:
- 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 hard time with cross-talk, for instance. But even in a noisy environment, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the individual across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio properties come with each specific room you go into. Some of those qualities are good for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effectively make automatic corrections that let you hear better in almost any environment.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but certainly made talking with a hearing aid more challenging. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping those with hearing aids hear better and stay safe simultaneously.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Essentially, you can initiate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a hard time hearing. This then triggers the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
Hearing aid makers and scientists are continuously developing new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the beginning.
How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can sometimes lead to confusion. So in terms of the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
Making hearing aids even more helpful for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are working on. New technologies, like machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But it’s not just hearing aids. In the future, AI may be able to help with diagnosing 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 dependable.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, unlike other industries. These machine learning algorithms provide some significant advantages to patients. Here are a few of those benefits:
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually means a better overall hearing experience.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be capable of detecting the significance and seriousness of your tumble. If there is a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, alert the Authorities. AI can also make your health data easier to interpret, helping you know when you should be moving more, eating better, or just hydrating more.
- Social engagement: Studies have revealed that those who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful when it comes to dealing with their social engagement. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of environments. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Likely, it simply helps people who are already social better preserve their relationships.
- 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 filter out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you really want to hear.
How does this impact patients?
For people who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently result in real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just boost the volume up. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and respond the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will create a location-by-location algorithm to address the various kinds of sounds it detects. 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.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- Your brain will experience a reduced cognitive burden.
- You will have improved quality of life.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite friends, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t offered in the majority of hearing aids until recently. After all, the device itself must do some extreme calculations (an algorithm, after all, is basically a very fancy math problem). 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 expensive in the near future. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more readily available.
Deciding what’s best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the extra cost. But AI makes a big difference for individuals who are socially involved and go out into noisy situations a lot.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less fatigued with AI hearing aids. 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 as well.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can work for you? Make an appointment with us right away.