You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But nowadays, AI is more science than fiction. This is especially true when it comes to hearing aids. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that simply increase the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to produce new results. In doing this, AI algorithms participate in a kind of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. As soon as the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each individual result.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make adjustments depending on your behaviors and your needs. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear as a result.
How can you hear better with AI?
At first, this might seem a bit abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can adding AI to the situation improve things? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with buttons and dials. (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid includes one of those! (It’s tiny.) Adjusting these settings can produce better sound quality. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without needing you to do anything.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to re-create human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time conditions because of this.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services recommend movies according to your viewing history, though it probably sounds like futuristic 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. These devices become more expert at making correct choices the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
Presently, hearing aids are integrating several brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Here are some of the best examples:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were certainly harder during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping individuals with hearing aids hear better and stay safe at the same time.
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio qualities come with each individual room you walk into. Some of those properties are good for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. You will hear better in nearly any environment with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Essentially, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. When this is activated AI will start working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a variety of loud or echo-prone locations. A hearing aid can have a difficult time with cross-talk, for example. But even in a noisy setting, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the individual across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
Hearing aid producers and scientists are constantly developing new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the beginning.
How is AI employed in the field of audiology?
These days, AI has kind of become something of a buzzword. Everyone’s heard it, which is good, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So with regard to the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
Making hearing aids even more helpful for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are tackling. This research includes new technologies, such as deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. In the future, AI may be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
As the technology develops and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
Unlike some other industries, AI is not being incorporated into hearing aids simply because it’s the hot new thing. Some considerable advantages to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. 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 devices. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this normally translates into hearing better more often.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from lots of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a myriad of other devices. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can determine the severity of your fall. In the event of a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, notify the Authorities. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to understand.
- Social engagement: When it comes to managing social interaction, individuals who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some research. This is likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a wider variety of settings. That said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life healthy. It most likely just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
What this means for patients
For people who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently translate into real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. If you had an older-style hearing aid, it would just boost the volume up. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult to hear voices. 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 recognize sounds and generates a location-by-location algorithm. These programs help when you go back to a particular location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- You will have improved quality of life.
- You will feel less aggravated because you will be able to hear better.
- Your brain will experience a reduced cognitive load.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Reward vs. cost
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t offered in most hearing aids until recent times. An algorithm is, in fact, a complex math equation. But prices are decreasing, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still may end up choosing 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 readily available and common.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be overkill for somebody who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. But AI makes a huge difference for people who are socially involved and go out into loud situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also helpful for someone who is rapidly worn out in social situations where the chore of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. AI-powered hearing aids reduce the listener’s fatigue 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 work for you? Contact us to set up an appointment!