Technology is evolving into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. In general, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
So it’s not surprising that hearing aids are no exception. The world’s population is getting older and hearing problems, though they can have a number of causes, are more common amongst older people. About 37.5 million adults and 3 million Canadians report some amount of hearing loss according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is going up because age is the strongest demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
If you’re dealing with hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing impairment? Bring ‘em on! Here are some of the advancements that are happening.
Complete-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This one seems like it should be obvious. Devices that provide different types of health tracking are almost always worn and 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. Or at least, you don’t with some of the latest hearing aids, which along with helping fix hearing difficulties like tinnitus, will also keep track of your pulse, your physical activity, and a whole lot more. Sure, a wearable like an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can give you other kinds of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend having conversations or listening. How much social involvement you get can actually be an important health metric, especially as you get older.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the primary focus here is connectivity. Some hearing aids that provide Bluetooth capabilities now allow users to stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for instance, to the hearing aids. Android developers now have open-source specs supplied by Google which lets them use specific Bluetooth channels to stream uninterrupted audio straight to your hearing aid. This type of technology is helping hearing aids function almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy movies, music, and more.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
Similar to how Netflix recommends shows and movies based on what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a milestone (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how ambitious your everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid could make personalized recommendations. The places you go and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being manufactured by several companies, to learn your behaviors. Some go as far as to crowdsource information about people’s usage habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. All this info allows the hearing aids to figure out your tendencies and make adjustments on the fly so that if you’re watching TV at home or you’re at an IMAX theater (for instance), you’ll get the best sound.
Getting Rid of The Batteries Once And For All
Hearing aids that don’t require their batteries changed? Sound too good to be true? It can be very inconvenient making certain you have spare batteries or that your hearing aids are completely charged. While we’re not likely to see hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a constant advancement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get faster charging time, longer use time, and worry less about batteries, which seems pretty good.