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Woman wearing hearing aids climbing hill with family and laughing at a joke.

When was the last time you used that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t have one? Because that technology is hundreds of years old. Okay, I suppose that makes sense. Ear trumpets are a bit… archaic.

The fundamental shape of the modern hearing aid was designed in the 1950s. And for some reason, that’s the hearing aid which has become identified in our collective consciousness. The trouble is that a hearing aid developed in the 1950s is just about as out-dated as a hearing trumpet. To understand just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unshackle our imaginations.

The History of Hearing Aids

It’s helpful to have some perspective about where hearing aids started so that you can better comprehend how advanced they have become. As far back as the 1500s, you can find some form of hearing aid (whether any of them ever actually helped you hear better is probably unlikely).

The first somewhat helpful hearing assistance device was most likely the ear trumpet. This device appeared to be an elongated horn. The wide end faced the world and the small end was put into your ear. Nowadays, you wouldn’t consider this device high tech, but back then they actually give some help.

Once electricity was introduced, hearing aids went through a significant revolution. In the 1950s the hearing aid as we know it was created. They were quite basic, relying on transistors and large, primitive batteries to get the job done. But these gadgets represent the beginning of a hearing aid that could easily be worn and concealed. Admittedly, modern hearing aids may share the same form and mission as those early 1950s models–but their functionality goes far beyond what was possible 7 decades ago.

Modern Features of Hearing Aids

Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it bluntly. And they keep making improvements. In numerous powerful ways, modern hearing aids have been making use of the digital technology of the later twentieth century. Power is the first and most essential way. Earlier versions had batteries which had less power in a bigger space than their present counterparts.

And with that increased power comes a large number of sophisticated advances:

  • Health monitoring: State-of-the-art Health tracking software is also included in modern hearing aid options. if you fall, for instance, some hearing aids can detect that. Other features can count your steps or give you exercise motivation.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Contemporary hearing aids are now able to communicate with all of your Bluetooth devices. This can be incredibly useful every day. For example, hearing aids used to have a tough time dealing with telephone calls because users would hear substantial (and sometimes unpleasant) feedback. When you connect to your phone via Bluetooth, the transition is simple and communicating is effortless. This is true for a wide variety of other scenarios regarding electronic devices. This means simple, feedback free connection to your TV, music, etc.
  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss doesn’t manifest through all wavelengths and frequencies uniformly. Maybe you have a more difficult time hearing high-frequency sounds (or vice versa). Contemporary hearing aids are far more efficient because they are able to boost only the frequencies you have a hard time hearing.
  • Speech recognition: For countless hearing aid users, the biggest goal of these devices is to facilitate communication. Isolating and amplifying voices, then, is a principal feature of the software of many hearing aids–which can be quite useful in a wide range of situations, from a crowded restaurant to an echo-y board room.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids are normally made of advanced materials, so they feel more comfortable. While these new materials enable hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also enables them to be more heavy-duty. It’s easy to see how hearing aids have advanced on the outside as well as the inside with the addition of long lasting and rechargeable batteries.

Just like rotary phones no longer represent long-distance communication, the hearing aids of old no longer represent what these devices are. Hearing aids aren’t what they used to be. And we should be excited because they’re much better than they used to be.

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