When was the last time you used that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t have one? Because that technology is centuries old. Okay, I suppose that makes sense. Ear trumpets are a bit… antiquated.
The modern(ish) hearing aid, as it happens, was engineered during the 1950s–the basic shape, that is. And for some reason, that’s the hearing aid which has become identified in our collective consciousness. The problem is that a hearing aid developed in the 1950s is just about as antiquated as an ear trumpet. We need to really advance our thinking if we want to understand how much more advanced modern hearing aids are.
Hearing Aids, Then And Now
So that you can better understand just how sophisticated hearing aids have become, it’s useful to have some perspective about where they started out. As far back as the 1500s, you can find some type of hearing aid (whether any of them ever actually helped you hear better is probably unlikely).
The “ear trumpet” was probably the first somewhat useful hearing assistance mechanism. This device appeared to be a long trumpet. The wide end pointed out and the narrow end was directed inside your ear. These, er, devices weren’t really high tech, but they did provide some measurable assistance.
Once electricity was introduced, hearing aids had a real revolution. The hearing aid that we are familiar with was really created in the 1950s. In order to work properly, they relied on large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a fairly basic design. But these gadgets signify the birth of a hearing aid that could easily be worn and concealed. The hearing aids of the 1950s might have appeared similar to modern hearing aids but the technology and functionality is worlds apart.
Modern Capabilities of Hearing Aids
Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it bluntly. And they keep making improvements. Since the late twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been benefiting from digital technologies in some significant ways. The first, and the most crucial way, is simple: power. Modern hearing aids can store substantially more power into a much smaller space than their earlier predecessors.
And a long list of cutting-edge developments come with greater power:
- Construction: Modern hearing aids are normally constructed out of high tech materials, so they feel more comfortable. While these new materials enable hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also enables them to be more robust. It’s easy to see how hearing aids have advanced on the outside as well as the inside with the addition of long lasting and rechargeable batteries.
- Bluetooth connectivity: Modern hearing aids can now communicate with all of your Bluetooth devices. This can be incredibly useful every day. Older hearing aids, for instance, would have aggravating feedback when you would attempt to talk on the phone. With contemporary hearing aids, you can simply connect to your cellphone using Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. This applies to a wide variety of other scenarios involving electronic devices. This means simple, feedback free connection to your TV, music, etc.
- Health monitoring: Advanced Health tracking software is also incorporated into modern hearing aid choices. For instance, some hearing aids can recognize whether you’ve had a fall. Other features can count your steps or give you exercise motivation.
- Speech recognition: For many hearing aid users, the ultimate objective of these devices is to assist in communication. Separating and boosting voices, then, is a principal function of the software of many hearing aids–from a packed restaurant to an echo-y meeting hall, this feature is useful in many situations.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss commonly occurs as loss of certain wavelengths and frequencies of sound. Maybe low frequency sound gets lost (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids are far more effective because they can amplify only the frequencies you have a hard time hearing.
The old style hearing aids no longer exemplify what hearing aids are, just as rotary phones no longer illustrate what long distance communication looks like. Hearing aids aren’t what they once were. And that’s a positive thing–because now they’re even better.