When somebody talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it may arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get used to. When it comes to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just raise the volume of sounds around you. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids use AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that uses data inputs to generate new results. In this way, AI algorithms participate in a type of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. When the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each individual result.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal needs depending 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?
At first, this may seem a little abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, you know that row of big knobs and buttons that people use to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve most likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid includes one of those! (It’s tiny.) Changing these settings can deliver better quality sound. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without needing you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a deep neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time conditions because of this.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to suggest movies based on your viewing history, though it probably sounds like space-aged technology at first. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more adept at making correct decisions the more you use them.
New advances in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Here are some of the best examples:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were definitely more difficult during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. You can stay safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. Essentially, you can activate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a difficult time hearing. When this is activated AI will start working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own distinctive acoustic properties. Some of those qualities are helpful for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. You will hear better in just about 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 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 crowded or noisy setting.
Hearing aid makers and scientists are constantly innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the beginning.
How is AI utilized in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has sort of become a bit of a buzzword. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can in some cases cause confusion. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more helpful for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are working on. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But it’s not just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will likely do in the future.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids just because it’s the hot new thing. These machine learning algorithms provide some considerable advantages to patients. Here are a few of those benefits:
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be able to detect the significance and severity of your tumble. In the event of a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, alert the Authorities. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
- Social engagement: In terms of dealing with social interaction, individuals 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 wider variety of settings. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It most likely just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- 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.
What this means for patients
These benefits frequently translate into real-world advantages for people with these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while lowering unwanted noise.
AI learns to recognize sounds and generates a location-by-location algorithm. These programs help when you go back to a specific location or sound profile. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with day-to-day sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- Your brain will experience a lower cognitive burden.
- You will feel less aggravated because you will be able to hear better.
- Your quality of life will get better.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI was not offered in most hearing aids owing to the costs involved. After all, the device itself must perform some extreme calculations (an algorithm, of course, is essentially a very elegant math problem). But prices are decreasing, 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 expensive 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 common and more widely available.
Deciding what’s best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the additional cost. To someone who is socially active and finds themselves in conditions with many competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted 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. 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 keep improving as AI technology improves.
How can AI technology help you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.