When somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it may conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But these days, AI is more science than just fiction. 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. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a type of technology that makes use of sophisticated algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. AI is able to use an algorithm to engage in a kind of learning called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need 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 depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
This may feel a little abstract initially. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, you know that row of big dials and switches that people use to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve most likely seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better quality of sound can be achieved by adjusting these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without requiring you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a deep neural network. As a result of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to conditions without being programmed to deal with them.
This may sound like space-age science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming based on your viewing history. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email provider utilizes it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you use these devices, the more reliable they become at making proper decisions.
AI hearing aids – new advances
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Some of the most relevant instances include the following:
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Essentially, you can initiate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a hard time hearing. This then initiates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own distinctive acoustic properties. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. 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 individual across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy environment.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were definitely more difficult during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping individuals with hearing aids hear better and remain safe at the same time.
Hearing aid manufacturers and scientists are continuously innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the beginning.
How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Everybody’s heard it, which is okay, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
First, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more useful to patients. This research includes new technologies, such as deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. In the future, AI might be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, unlike other industries. Some significant benefits to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Among those advantages are the following:
- Social engagement: Studies have shown that people who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to dealing with their social engagement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which probably accounts for better social interaction. That said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life afloat. Likely, it simply helps those who are already social better maintain their relationships.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn off those algorithms. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this normally means hearing better more often.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be capable of detecting the significance and severity of your tumble. If there is a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, alert the Authorities. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to understand.
How does this affect patients?
These benefits frequently result in real-world advantages for people with these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just boost the volume up. 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 dulling undesired noise.
AI will generate a location-by-location algorithm to deal with the various types of sounds it picks up. These algorithms 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.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your brain will have a reduced cognitive burden.
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as frequently).
- Your quality of life will get better.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite friends, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI was not available in most hearing aids owing to the costs involved. An algorithm is, in fact, a complex math equation. But prices are decreasing, partially due to the prevalence of the technology.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still might wind up choosing a model that doesn’t have AI functionality. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more readily available.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be too much for somebody who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. But AI makes a huge difference for people who are socially involved and go out into loud situations a lot.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be very 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? Call us to set up an appointment!