When somebody talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it may arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all better get accustomed to. This is particularly true when it comes to hearing aids. The times when hearing aids merely increased the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone forever. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a form of technology that utilizes complex algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. In this way, AI algorithms engage in a type of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. When the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each individual result.
Depending on the amount of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make modifications depending on your behaviors and your requirements. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
This may seem 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, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with buttons and dials. (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Better audio quality can be obtained by altering these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without needing you to do anything.
These smart devices use a deep neural network to re-create human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time situations because of this.
This may sound like futuristic 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 supplier utilizes it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. These devices become more proficient at making correct decisions the more you use them.
New advances in AI hearing aids
These days, hearing aids are incorporating multiple brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were undoubtedly harder during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. You can stay safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. 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.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone settings. Cross talk, for instance, can often be difficult 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.
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio properties come with each specific room you go into. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. You will hear better in almost any setting with AI technology making effective automatic adjustments.
Hearing aid manufacturers and scientists are continuously developing new hearing aid technologies, so this might be just the tip of the iceberg.
How is AI utilized in the field of audiology?
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can sometimes result in confusion. So when it comes to the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
Making hearing aids even more helpful for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are tackling. New technologies, like 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 a couple of the things that AI will most likely do in the future.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, in contrast to other industries. Some significant advantages 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 myriad devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you really want to hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can detect the severity of your fall. In some situations, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones in the event of a severe fall. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
- 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 users will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this often means hearing better more often.
- Social engagement: In terms of managing social interaction, people who use AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some research. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide array of settings, which likely accounts for better social interaction. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It probably just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
How does this impact patients?
For people with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often translate into real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. This isn’t practical because the conversation you actually care about will get overpowered by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI learns to identify sounds and creates a location-by-location algorithm. If you go back to a specific location or sound profile, AI can initiate these algorithms. 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:
- You will feel less aggravated because you will be able to hear better.
- You will have improved quality of life.
- Your brain will experience a reduced cognitive load.
In other words, it’ll be easier 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 the vast majority of hearing aids owing to the costs involved. An algorithm is, after all, a complex math equation. However, in part because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are beginning to go down.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less expensive in the near future. Clearly, patients will still have to make important choices. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more widely 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 individuals who are socially involved and go out into loud situations a lot.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less fatigued 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.
How can AI technology help you? Contact us to make an appointment!