You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all better get used to. This is particularly true when it comes to hearing aids. The days when hearing aids simply boosted the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. Contemporary, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to produce new results. In this way, AI algorithms engage in a kind of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every individual result because the algorithm does that by itself.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal needs depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
At first, this could seem a little abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can adding AI to the mix enhance things? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with buttons and dials. (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid includes one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Better quality of sound can be achieved by adjusting these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without needing you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a deep neural network. As a result of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to situations without being programmed to do so.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services recommend movies based on your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like futuristic technology initially. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier utilizes it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you use these devices, the more efficient they become at making proper decisions.
New advancements in AI hearing aids
These days, 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: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. You can stay safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone settings. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for example. But even in a loud setting, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. Basically, you can activate something called edge mode whenever you’re having a difficult time hearing. This then activates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio qualities come with each specific room you go into. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it doesn’t do so well with. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic adjustments that allow you to hear better in almost any environment.
Hearing aid producers and scientists are constantly innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the tip of the iceberg.
How is AI utilized in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has sort of become a bit of a buzzword. Everyone’s heard it, which is okay, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So in terms of the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
First off, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more helpful to patients. New technologies, including machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But it’s not just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will most likely do in the future.
As the technology grows and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
Unlike some other industries, AI is not being integrated into hearing aids simply because it’s the popular new fad. Some significant benefits to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Among those advantages are the following:
- Social engagement: With regard to managing social interaction, people who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some studies. This is likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of environments. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Most likely, it simply helps people who are already social better preserve their relationships.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally means hearing better more frequently.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be able to detect the significance and seriousness of your tumble. In some cases, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones if there is a severe fall. AI can also make your health data easier to understand, helping you identify when you should be moving more, eating better, or just hydrating more.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you will hear is the sound you really want to hear.
What this means for patients
These benefits frequently translate into real-world advantages for people with these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, lowering background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI learns to identify sounds and generates a location-by-location algorithm. These algorithms help when you return to a particular location or sound profile. 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:
- You will have improved quality of life.
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- The cognitive load will be decreased.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to follow along with your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t offered in the majority of hearing aids until recently. An algorithm is, in fact, an intricate math equation. However, partially because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are beginning to go down.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want might have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less costly in the near future. Clearly, patients will still need to make important decisions. But AI functions are becoming more widely obtainable and prevalent.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be overkill for somebody who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in situations with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. Social situations are simpler and the user will feel less tired with AI hearing aids. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. As technology and AI improve, hearing aids will continue to too.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can help you? Contact us to make an appointment!