When somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it might conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But these days, AI is more science than fiction. This is especially true when it comes to hearing aids. The times when hearing aids merely increased the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone forever. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that utilizes data inputs to generate new results. AI is capable of using an algorithm to take part in a kind of learning known as “machine learning”. When the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each separate result.
Depending on the degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make modifications depending on your behaviors and your needs. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
Initially, this may seem a little abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can adding AI to the mix improve things? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with buttons and knobs. (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid contains one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Better audio quality can be obtained by modifying these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without requiring you to do anything.
These smart devices use a deep neural network to imitate human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time situations because of this.
This may sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to recommend programming according to your viewing history. 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 proficient at making appropriate choices the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new advances
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:
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio properties come with each specific room you walk into. Some of those properties are good for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effectively make automatic adjustments that allow you to hear better in almost any environment.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Essentially, you can activate something called edge mode whenever you’re having a difficult time hearing. When this is activated AI will begin working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were certainly tougher during the pandemic when everyone was wearing a facemask. You can stay safer and hear better at the same time 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 with an AI filtering out non-essential information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy environment.
This is likely only the start of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI utilized in the field of audiology?
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Everyone’s heard it, which is okay, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more useful for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are tackling. This research includes new technologies, such as deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. In the future, AI might be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
As the technology expands and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
In contrast to some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids just because it’s the hot new fad. Some considerable advantages to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Here are some of those benefits:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might 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 major fall. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this usually means hearing better more frequently.
- Social engagement: With regard to managing social interaction, individuals who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some studies. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide spectrum of settings, which most likely accounts for better social engagement. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It probably just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
- 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. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you actually want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
What this means for patients
These benefits frequently lead to real-world advantages for people who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. If you had an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. This isn’t helpful because the conversation you actually care about will get overpowered by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while dulling unwanted noise.
AI learns to recognize sounds and generates a location-by-location algorithm. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can activate these programs. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- The cognitive load will be decreased.
- Your quality of life will get better.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI wasn’t available in the vast majority of hearing aids because of the costs involved. An algorithm is, after all, an intricate math equation. But prices are coming down, partially due to the prevalence of the technology.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will automatically be less costly in the near future. Obviously, patients will still need to make important decisions. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more readily available.
Figuring out what choice is 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 active and go out into loud situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also practical for someone who is quickly worn out in social situations where the chore of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less exhausted with AI hearing aids. 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 improve, hearing aids will continue to too.
How can AI technology help you? Make an appointment with us right away.