It seems as if all our devices are getting smarter, stronger, and smaller. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices have more features and take up less space.
This is also true for hearing aids, and it’s not a surprise. The world’s population is getting older and hearing problems, though they can have many different causes, are more common amongst older people. According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe having trouble hearing, and because age is a better predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number will probably increase.
Of course, if you’re dealing with hearing loss, even one person with difficulty hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Better ways to minimize hearing loss? Let’s have them! Advancements are happening, here are a few.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Whole Body
This is so intuitive, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” developments. Health and fitness trackers have to be worn on the body. So, if you’ve already got a device that’s in your ear… do you really need another one on your wrist? Nope! If you have the latest hearing aid, it probably can track your pulse, physical activity along with improving hearing issues such as tinnitus. Certainly, a wearable like an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can offer you other types of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend in active conversation or listening. How much social involvement you get can actually be an important health metric, particularly as you age.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Connectivity is the important watchword, as virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa have advanced from smartphones to in-home devices seamlessly. Audio from a device, like a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth capable. Google released open-source standards for Android developers that show them how to use specific channels within Bluetooth to provide uninterrupted audio directly to hearing aids. This technology is making things like music and movies more enjoyable by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
In a similar way to how Netflix recommends shows and movies according to what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit buzzes to let you know you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how driven your everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid might make personalized suggestions. The places you go and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being developed by several brands, to learn your habits. Some take it one step further, crowdsourcing data on how individuals use their hearing aids anonymizing and then mixing the data. All this information enables the hearing aids to figure out your preferences and make adjustments on the fly so that whether you’re at home watching TV or you’re in an IMAX theater (for instance), you’ll get the best sound.
Eliminating The Batteries For Good
We know, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t require batteries? After all, making sure you’ve got spare batteries with you, or even taking time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be a pain in the, um, ear. While we’re not likely to see hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a continuous advancement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get faster charging time, longer use time, and worry less about batteries, which seems pretty good.