When somebody talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it might arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But nowadays, AI is more science than just fiction. This is especially true with regard to hearing aids. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that simply increase the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that uses data inputs to produce new results. In doing this, AI algorithms engage in a type of learning, aptly 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 successful at improving your hearing.
How does AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
Initially, this might seem a bit abstract. After all, hearing aids seem to have a rather straightforward function. 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 likely seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Altering 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. Because of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to situations without being programmed to do so.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services recommend movies based on your viewing history, though it probably sounds like futuristic technology at first. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you utilize these devices, the more reliable they become at making correct decisions.
New improvements in AI hearing aids
Presently, hearing aids are incorporating several brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Here are some of the best examples:
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a setting that has lots of echoes, or is extremely loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. 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 crowded or noisy environment.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were certainly tougher during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping those with hearing aids hear better and remain safe at the same time.
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio qualities come with each individual room you go into. Some of those properties are good for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. You will hear better in just about any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Basically, you can activate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a difficult time hearing. When this is activated AI will begin working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
Hearing aid producers and scientists are continuously innovating new hearing aid technologies, so this may be just the tip of the iceberg.
How is AI employed in the field of audiology?
These days, AI has kind of become something of a buzzword. Everybody’s heard it, which is good, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. 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. New technologies, such as machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of this research. But it isn’t just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will likely do in the future.
As the technology expands and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids simply because it’s the popular new thing. Some considerable benefits to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Here are some of those benefits:
- 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.
- Social engagement: In terms of dealing with social interaction, people who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some research. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of environments. That said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life afloat. It most likely just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
- 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 seriousness of your tumble. In some situations, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a major fall. AI can also make your health data easier to understand, helping you know when you should be exercising more, eating better, or just hydrating more.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this normally means hearing better more frequently.
How does this impact patients?
These benefits frequently lead to real-world advantages for people who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. If you had an older-style hearing aid, it would just boost the volume up. This isn’t practical because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will create a location-by-location program to address the various kinds of sounds it detects. These programs help when you return to a specific location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You will feel less aggravated because you will be able to hear better.
- The cognitive burden will be reduced.
- Your quality of life will improve.
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t offered in most hearing aids until recent times. After all, the device itself must perform some intense calculations (an algorithm, after all, is essentially a very elegant math problem). But prices are decreasing, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still may end up wanting a model that doesn’t have AI functionality. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI features are becoming more widely obtainable and prevalent.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be overkill for someone who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. But AI makes a big difference for individuals who are socially involved and go out into noisy situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also helpful for somebody who is quickly worn out in social scenarios where the chore of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less exhausted with AI hearing aids. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. Hearing aids will continue to improve as AI technology improves.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can help you? Give us a call to make an appointment!