You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). 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. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that uses data inputs to produce new results. In this way, AI algorithms participate in a type of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. As soon as the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each individual result.
Depending on the amount of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make modifications depending on your routines and your requirements. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear as a result.
How can AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
This may feel a little abstract initially. After all, hearing aids appear to have a pretty basic function. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with switches and dials. (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid contains one of those! (It’s tiny.) Better audio quality can be attained by altering 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 deep neural network to emulate human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time situations because of this.
This might sound like space-age science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming according to your viewing history. AI is also found in cars and the emAIls auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you make use of these devices, the more efficient they become at making proper decisions.
AI hearing aids – new advances
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Some of the best examples include the following:
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own distinctive acoustic properties. Some of those properties are good for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. You will hear better in nearly any setting with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- 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 difficult 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.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. In essence, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. 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 stay safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
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?
These days, AI has sort of become a bit of a buzzword. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can occasionally lead to confusion. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
First, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more useful to patients. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will probably do in the future.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, in contrast to other industries. Some significant benefits to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Here are a few of those benefits:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be capable of detecting the significance and severity of your tumble. If there is a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, notify the Authorities. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to understand.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this normally means a better all-around hearing experience.
- Social engagement: In terms of dealing with social interaction, individuals 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 most likely accounts for better social engagement. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Most 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 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 want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
How does this impact patients?
For individuals with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently translate into real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, lowering background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI learns to recognize sounds and generates a location-by-location program. These programs help when you go back to a particular location or sound profile. 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 brain will experience a lower cognitive burden.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
- Your quality of life will improve.
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.
Reward vs. cost
There was a time when AI wasn’t offered in most hearing aids owing to the costs involved. After all, the device itself must do some extreme calculations (an algorithm, after all, is essentially a very fancy math problem). However, partially because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are starting to go down.
That isn’t saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still may end up wanting a model that doesn’t have AI capabilities. Obviously, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI functions are becoming more widely obtainable and common.
Deciding what’s best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the additional cost. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in scenarios with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also useful for somebody who is rapidly worn out in social scenarios where the chore of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. AI-powered hearing aids reduce 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? Schedule an appointment with us right away.