Technology is evolving into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
This is also true for hearing aids, and it’s not surprising. Though hearing problems have a variety of causes, hearing problems are more common amongst older people, and the world’s population is aging. About 37.5 million adults and 3 million Canadians describe some level of hearing loss according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is increasing because age is the strongest demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Naturally, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, even one individual with difficulty hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Better ways to minimize hearing loss? Let’s have them! Here are some of the advancements that are in the works.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Entire Body
This is so obvious, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” developments. Health and fitness trackers 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. If you have a newer hearing aid, it can most likely keep track of your pulse, physical activity along with improving hearing problems like tinnitus. Certainly, a wearable like an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can provide you with other types of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend in active conversation or listening. How much social engagement you get can actually be a vital health metric, especially as you get older.
Connectivity is the primary watchword, as virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa have advanced from smartphones to in-home devices without missing a beat. Some hearing aids that provide Bluetooth capabilities now let users stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for example, to the hearing aids. Android developers now have open-source specifications supplied by Google which allows them to use certain Bluetooth channels to stream continuous audio straight to your hearing aid. This kind of technology is helping hearing aids work almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy music, movies, and more.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
In a similar way to how Netflix suggests shows and movies based on what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit buzzes to let you know you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how driven your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid could make personalized recommendations. Several manufacturers are working on hearing aids that will learn both from the adjustments you make and from listening to the places you go. Some go as far as to crowdsource information about people’s usage habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be able to use this information to recognize what your situation is and make adjustments to provide you with the best audio experience.
Getting Rid of The Batteries For Good
Hearing aids that don’t need their batteries replaced? Sound too good to be true? It can be very inconvenient making sure you have spare batteries or that your hearing aids are fully charged. While a hearing aid that doesn’t use any batteries at all may seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology continues to improve. You’ll get quicker charging time, extended use time, and less worry about batteries, which seems pretty good.