You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But these days, AI is more science than just fiction. This is particularly true when it comes to hearing aids. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely raise the volume of sounds around you. Contemporary, high-end hearing aids use AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a sophisticated computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to produce new results. AI is able to use an algorithm to take part in a type of learning known as “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every individual result because the algorithm does that on its own.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal requirements based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear because of this.
How can AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
Initially, this could seem a little abstract. After all, hearing aids appear to have a rather basic function. How can adding AI to the mix enhance things? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with switches and dials. (You’ve most likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s tiny.) Changing these settings can provide better sound quality. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing the way you hear without any hassle on your part.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a deep neural network. As a result of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to conditions without being programmed to do so.
This may sound like space-age science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to recommend programming based on your viewing history. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more proficient at making appropriate choices the more you use them.
New advances in AI hearing aids
These days, hearing aids are incorporating multiple brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio qualities come with each specific room you go into. Some of those qualities are helpful for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. You will hear better in nearly any setting with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- 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 hard time with cross-talk, for example. But even in a loud setting, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the person across from you is saying as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were undoubtedly tougher during the pandemic when everyone was wearing a facemask. You can remain safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. 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.
This is likely only the beginning of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the field of audiology
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can in some cases lead to confusion. So when it comes to the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are tackling. New technologies, like machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will most likely do in the future.
As the technology develops and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, in contrast to other industries. These machine learning algorithms provide some considerable benefits to patients. Among those benefits are the following:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can detect the severity of your fall. In the event of a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, alert the Authorities. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health information easier to understand.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this usually means hearing better more often.
- 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 by filtering out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you really want to hear.
- Social engagement: When it comes to managing social interaction, people who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some studies. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which probably accounts for better social interaction. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It probably just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
What this means for patients
These benefits often lead to real-world advantages for people who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. This isn’t practical because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and respond the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will create a location-by-location program to address the various types of sounds it picks up. If you return to a specific location or sound profile, AI can initiate these algorithms. 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:
- You will have improved quality of life.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- The cognitive burden 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.
Reward vs. cost
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t available in the majority of hearing aids until recent times. After all, the device itself must perform some intense calculations (an algorithm, of course, is essentially a very fancy math problem). However, in part because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are beginning to go down.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less costly in the near future. Clearly, patients will still have to make important choices. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more readily available.
Deciding what’s best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the additional cost. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in scenarios with many competing sounds, however, it makes a huge difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also helpful for somebody who is quickly worn out in social scenarios where the chore of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. AI-powered hearing aids reduce the listener’s exhaustion 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. Hearing aids will continue to improve as AI technology improves.
How can AI technology help you? Give us a call to make an appointment!