It seems as if all our devices are getting stronger, smarter, and more compact. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
This is also true for hearing aids, and it’s not a surprise. Though hearing issues have a number of causes, hearing difficulties are more prevalent among older individuals, and the world’s population is aging. 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 better predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number is likely to increase.
Naturally, if you’re dealing with hearing loss, even one individual with difficulty hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing impairment? Bring ‘em on! Innovations are happening, here are some.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Whole Body
This one seems as if it should be obvious. Health and fitness trackers have to be worn on the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? The answer is no. If you have a newer hearing aid, it can most likely keep track of your pulse, physical activity along with improving hearing problems such as tinnitus. Certainly, a wearable such as an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can provide you with 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 engagement you get can actually be an essential health metric, especially as you age.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have smoothly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the primary emphasis here is connectivity. Audio from a device, like a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth compatible. Google released open-source specifications 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 movies and music more enjoyable by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Similar to how Netflix suggests shows and movies based on 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 daily step goals are), your next hearing aid might make personalized suggestions. Several manufacturers are working on hearing aids that will learn both from the adjustments you make and from listening to the places you go. Some go as far as to crowdsource information 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 know what your situation is and make adjustments to give you the most enjoyable audio experience.
Finally Ditching The Batteries
We know, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? After all, making sure you’ve got spare batteries with you, or even making time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be annoying. While a hearing aid that doesn’t take any batteries at all might seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology continues to improve. You’ll get quicker charging time, longer use time, and worry less about batteries, which seems pretty good.