You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But nowadays, AI is more science than just fiction. This is particularly true with regard to hearing aids. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just raise the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a type of technology that makes use of complex algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. In this way, AI algorithms participate 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.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal needs depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
Initially, this could seem a little abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can adding AI to the mix enhance things? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard full of buttons and dials. (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid includes one of those! (It’s tiny.) Adjusting these settings can produce 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. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time conditions because of this.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to suggest 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. These devices become more proficient at making correct choices the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
These days, hearing aids are incorporating multiple brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was wearing masks, which was good, but certainly made conversations with a hearing aid more difficult. You can stay safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. In essence, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. When this is initiated AI will begin working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- 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 example, can often be hard on a hearing aid. But even in a loud environment, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the individual across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio properties come with each individual 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 corrections that let you hear better in almost any setting.
This is probably only the start of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has kind of become something of a buzzword. Everybody’s heard it, which is good, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So with regard to the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
First, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more useful to patients. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But it’s not just hearing aids. In the future, AI may be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
As the technology develops and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the hot new fad, unlike other industries. Some significant advantages to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Among those advantages are the following:
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from lots of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a range of other devices. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be capable of detecting the significance and severity of your tumble. If there is a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some situations, notify the Authorities. AI can also make your health information easier to interpret, helping you know when you should be moving more, eating better, or just drinking more water.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn off those algorithms. So the quality of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally translates into hearing better more often.
- 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 studies. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which likely accounts for better social interaction. That said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life afloat. It probably just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
What this means for patients
These benefits often translate into real-world advantages for people with these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while dulling unwanted noise.
AI learns to identify sounds and creates a location-by-location program. These algorithms 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.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- Your quality of life will get better.
- Your brain will have a decreased cognitive burden.
In other words, it’ll be easier to follow along with your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI wasn’t offered in most hearing aids because of the costs involved. An algorithm is, in fact, a complex math equation. But prices are decreasing, partially due to the prevalence of the technology.
That isn’t saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still may end up wanting a model that doesn’t include AI functionality. Obviously, patients will still have to make important choices. However, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more widely available.
Finding out what choice is best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out very much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the added cost. But AI makes a huge difference for people who are socially involved and go out into noisy situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also useful for somebody who is rapidly worn out in social situations where the task of keeping up with conversations using a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. AI-powered hearing aids decrease the listener’s fatigue and make social situations more enjoyable. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. As technology and AI develop, hearing aids will continue to as well.
How can AI technology help you? Schedule an appointment with us right away.