Technology is evolving into stronger, smarter, and smaller devices. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices have more features and take up less space.
So it’s not surprising that hearing aids are no different. The world’s population is aging and hearing problems, though they can have many different causes, are more common amongst older individuals. According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians report having difficulty hearing, and because age is a better predictor of hearing loss than any other demographic variable, that number will probably increase.
If you’re dealing with hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Better ways to reduce hearing loss? Let’s have them! Here are some of the innovations that are in the works.
Whole-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This one seems like it should be obvious. Health and fitness trackers need to be worn on the body. So, if you already have a device that’s in your ear… do you actually need a separate one on your wrist? Nope! Or at least, you don’t with some of the latest hearing aids, which along with helping correct for hearing difficulties like tinnitus, will also track your pulse, your physical activity, and much more. Certainly, a wearable such as an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can provide you with other types of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend having conversations or listening. How much social engagement you get can actually be a vital health metric, especially as you age.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the primary emphasis here is connectivity. Some hearing aids that have 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 supplied by Google which lets them use certain Bluetooth channels to stream uninterrupted audio directly to your hearing aid. This kind of technology is helping hearing aids function almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy music, movies, and more.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
Similar to how Netflix recommends shows and movies based on what you’ve previously watched, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how ambitious your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid might make personalized recommendations. 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 push it even further, crowdsourcing information on how individuals use their hearing aids anonymizing and then mixing the data. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be capable of using this information to identify what your situation is and make adjustments to give you the most enjoyable audio experience.
Finally Ditching The Batteries
Hearing aids that don’t require their batteries changed? Sound too good to be true? After all, making sure you’ve got spare batteries with you, or even taking time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be annoying. While a hearing aid that doesn’t take any batteries at all may seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology keeps improving. That means longer in-use time, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, all in all, not too shabby.