You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than fiction. This is particularly true with regard to hearing aids. The times when hearing aids merely increased the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone forever. Modern, high-end hearing aids use AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a type of technology that uses complex algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. In this way, AI algorithms participate in a type of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. Once the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each separate result.
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 increasing your ability to hear because of this.
How does AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
This may feel a little abstract initially. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can adding AI to the situation improve things? Well, you know that row of big knobs and buttons that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Adjusting these settings can provide better sound quality. AI-powered hearing aids change these digital dials and switches automatically, improving the way you hear without any work by you.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a rich neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time conditions because of this.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to recommend movies based on your viewing history, though it probably sounds like space-aged technology initially. Newer cars utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your email provider 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 innovations
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Some of the most relevant instances include the following:
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio properties come with each individual room you go into. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it doesn’t do so well with. You will hear better in almost any setting with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Basically, you can initiate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a hard time hearing. This then initiates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping those with hearing aids hear better and stay safe simultaneously.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a variety of loud or echo-prone settings. Cross talk, for example, can often be hard on a hearing aid. But with an AI filtering out non-imperative information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy environment.
This is likely only the start of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI utilized in the field 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 result in confusion. So, what does AI mean for the field 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, including deep neural networks and machine learning. But it isn’t just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will probably do in the future.
As the technology grows and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, unlike other industries. These machine learning algorithms offer some significant benefits to patients. Here are some of those benefits:
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually means a better all-around hearing experience.
- 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 will hear is the sound you really want to hear.
- Social engagement: With regard to 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 array of settings, which likely accounts for better social interaction. Having said that, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life healthy. Most likely, it simply helps those who are already social better maintain their relationships.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be able to detect the significance and severity of your tumble. If there is a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, alert the Authorities. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health information easier to interpret.
What this means for patients
These benefits frequently translate into real-world advantages for those with these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. This isn’t practical because the conversation you actually care about will get overpowered by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while dulling undesired noise.
AI learns to identify sounds and generates a location-by-location program. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can activate these algorithms. In order to better identify and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with everyday sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- Your brain will have a decreased cognitive load.
- You will feel less aggravated because you will be able to hear better.
- You will have improved quality of life.
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids because of the costs involved. After all, the device itself has to perform some extreme calculations (an algorithm, after all, is essentially a very fancy math problem). But prices are coming down, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want might have AI, or even that those hearing aids will automatically be less costly in the near future. Clearly, patients will still need to make important choices. But AI features are becoming more widely available and common.
Figuring out what choice is best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be overkill for someone who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in conditions with many competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. 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 develop, hearing aids will continue to as well.
Want to find out how AI hearing aids can help you? Contact us to set up an appointment!