When someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it might arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But nowadays, AI is more science than fiction. This is particularly true when it comes to hearing aids. The times when hearing aids merely amplified the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone for good. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a sophisticated computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to generate new results. In this way, AI algorithms participate in a type of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t have to program every specific result because the algorithm does that on its own.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal requirements depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at increasing your ability to hear because of this.
How can you hear better with AI?
This may seem a bit abstract at first. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, you know that row of big dials and buttons that people use to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better quality of sound can be attained by altering these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without needing you to do anything.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to imitate human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time conditions because of this.
This may sound like space-age science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming according to your viewing history. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier uses it to auto-sort emails 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 integrating multiple brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the most relevant examples include the following:
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Essentially, you can activate something called edge mode whenever you’re having a tough time hearing. When this is initiated AI will begin working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own unique acoustic properties. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic corrections that allow you to hear better in almost any environment.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was wearing masks, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. You can remain safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a variety of loud or echo-prone locations. Cross talk, for instance, can often be hard on a hearing aid. 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 setting.
Hearing aid makers and scientists are constantly developing new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the tip of the iceberg.
How is AI employed in the field of audiology?
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Depending on the context, AI does different things, which can in some cases cause confusion. 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 working on. New technologies, including machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will probably do in the future.
As the technology grows and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
Unlike some other industries, AI is not being integrated into hearing aids simply because it’s the popular new thing. These machine learning algorithms offer some significant benefits to patients. Here are a few of those benefits:
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from a wide variety 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.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this often translates into hearing better more often.
- Social engagement: When it comes to dealing with social interaction, individuals who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some studies. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of settings. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Most likely, it simply helps people who are already social better maintain their relationships.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can detect the severity of your fall. If there is a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, notify the Authorities. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
How does this impact patients?
For people with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often lead to real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. 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 drowned out by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, lowering background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will create a location-by-location algorithm to deal with the various types of sounds it picks up. These programs help when you return to a specific location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with day-to-day sounds in order to better identify 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).
- Your brain will have a decreased cognitive load.
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Reward vs. cost
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t offered in the majority of hearing aids until recent times. After all, the device itself has to perform some extreme calculations (an algorithm, after all, is essentially a very fancy math problem). But prices are decreasing, partially due to the prevalence of the technology.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want might 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 AI functions are becoming more widely obtainable and prevalent.
Figuring out what option is best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the extra cost. But AI makes a huge difference for people who are socially active and go out into noisy situations a lot.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. 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. As technology and AI improve, hearing aids will continue to as well.
How can AI technology help you? Contact us to make an appointment!