Technology is developing into stronger, smarter, and smaller devices. Taking up less space while having more functionality is the overall trend.
This is also true for hearing aids, and it’s not surprising. The world’s population is getting older and hearing problems, though they can have a number of causes, are more common among older people. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe having difficulty hearing, and since age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number is likely to go up.
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Better ways to minimize hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Advancements are happening, here are a few.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Entire 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 actually need another one on your wrist? The answer is no. If you have a newer hearing aid, it probably can track your pulse, physical activity along with improving hearing problems like tinnitus. Hearing aids also have the ability to monitor things that other wearables usually don’t, like the time spent conversing. How much social engagement you get can actually be an important health metric, particularly as you get older.
Connectivity is the primary watchword, as virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa have moved from smartphones to in-home devices seamlessly. Some hearing aids that have Bluetooth capabilities now let users stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for instance, to the hearing aids. Android developers now have open-source specifications provided by Google which lets them use specific Bluetooth channels to stream continuous audio directly to your hearing aid. This kind of technology is helping hearing aids work almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy music, movies, and more.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
In a similar way to how Netflix recommends shows and movies based on what you’ve watched previously, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how ambitious your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid may make personalized recommendations. The places you go and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being manufactured by a few companies, to learn your behaviors. Some go as far as to crowdsource data about people’s usage habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be able to use this information to identify what your situation is and make adjustments to provide you with the best audio experience.
Finally Losing The Batteries
Hearing aids that don’t need their batteries replaced? Sound too good to be true? After all, making certain you’ve got spare batteries on hand, or even taking time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be a pain in the, um, ear. While a hearing aid that doesn’t use any batteries at all may seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology keeps improving. That means longer in-use time, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, all in all, not too shabby.