Technology is developing into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices have more features and take up less space.
This is also true for hearing aids, and it’s not surprising. The world’s population is aging and hearing issues, though they can have a number of causes, are more common amongst older people. According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly 37.5 million individuals and 3 million Canadians describe having trouble hearing, and since age is a stronger predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number is likely to go up.
Of course, if you’re dealing with hearing loss, even one person with trouble hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Are there any better ways to deal with hearing impairment? Bring ‘em on! Advancements are happening, here are some.
Whole-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This is so obvious, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” innovations. Devices that provide different types of health tracking are nearly always worn and 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. Or at least, you don’t with some of the newest hearing aids, which in addition to helping correct for hearing difficulties such as tinnitus, will also track your pulse, your physical activity, and a whole lot more. Hearing aids also have the ability to track things that other wearables normally don’t, like the time spent conversing. Especially as you age your level of social engagement can actually be a key health metric.
Connectivity is the major watchword, as virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa have moved 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 instance, to the hearing aids. Android developers now have open-source specs provided by Google which allows them to use certain Bluetooth channels to stream uninterrupted audio directly to your hearing aid. This technology is making things like movies and music more enjoyable by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Similar to how Netflix recommends shows and movies based on what you’ve watched previously, 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 everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid could make personalized suggestions. 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 data about people’s utilization 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 capable of using this information to recognize what your situation is and make adjustments to give you the best audio experience.
Eliminating The Batteries For Good
We know, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? It can be really inconvenient making certain you have extra batteries or that your hearing aids are completely charged. While a hearing aid that doesn’t use any batteries at all may seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology keeps improving. That means longer time in use, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, all in all, not too bad.