You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But nowadays, AI is more science than fiction. When it comes to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely increase the volume of sounds around you. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that utilizes data inputs to produce new results. AI is able to use an algorithm to take part in a type of learning known as “machine learning”. Once the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each separate result.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal requirements depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear as a result.
How can you hear better with AI?
At first, this might seem a little abstract. After all, hearing aids seem to have a fairly straightforward function. How can adding AI to the mix enhance things? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard full of buttons and knobs. (You’ve probably seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Adjusting these settings can deliver better sound quality. 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 situations because of this.
This may sound like space-age science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to recommend programming according to 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 expert at making appropriate choices the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new advances
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio qualities come with each specific room you walk into. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it doesn’t do so well with. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effectively make automatic adjustments that let you hear better in just about any setting.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a variety of loud or echo-prone settings. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for instance. 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 setting.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were certainly harder during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. You can remain safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Basically, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. This then triggers the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
This is most likely only the start of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the field of audiology
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Everybody’s heard it, which is good, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So in terms of the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are working on. New technologies, including 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 some things that AI will probably do in the future.
As the technology develops and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, in contrast to other industries. These machine learning algorithms offer some considerable advantages to patients. Here are a few of those benefits:
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from lots 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 want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- Social engagement: In terms of dealing with social interaction, individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some studies. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide spectrum of settings, which likely accounts for better social engagement. That said, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life afloat. Likely, it simply helps people who are already social better preserve their relationships.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this normally means a better all-around hearing experience.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can detect the seriousness of your fall. In some cases, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones in the event of a major fall. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
How does this affect patients?
For people who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often lead to real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. This isn’t practical because the conversation you actually care about will get overpowered by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and respond 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 program. These algorithms help when you return to a particular location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with day-to-day sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You won’t be aggravated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
- Your brain will experience a reduced cognitive burden.
- Your quality of life will improve.
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.
Reward vs. cost
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids until recently. An algorithm is, in fact, a complex math equation. However, partially because of the prevalence of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are starting to go down.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want might have AI, or even that those hearing aids will automatically be less costly in the near future. Obviously, patients will still have to make important decisions. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more readily available.
Figuring out what choice is best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be too much for somebody who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in scenarios with many competing sounds, however, it makes a huge difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also useful for somebody who is rapidly worn out in social scenarios where the task of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. 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. Hearing aids will keep improving as AI technology improves.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can help you? Make an appointment with us right away.