It seems like all our devices are getting stronger, smarter, and more compact. Being smaller while doing more is the overall trend.
So it’s not surprising that hearing aids are no different. Though hearing issues have a number of causes, hearing problems are more common among older individuals, and the world’s population is aging. Around 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians report some amount of hearing impairment according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is going up as age is the strongest demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Are there any better ways to deal with hearing impairment? 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 as if it should be obvious. Devices that offer different types of health tracking are almost always worn and have to be worn close to the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? The answer is no. If you have the latest hearing aid, it probably can keep track of your pulse, physical activity along with improving hearing issues like tinnitus. Sure, a wearable like an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can give you other kinds of input that can be helpful to monitoring health, like how much time you spend in active conversation or listening. Particularly as you age your level of social involvement can actually be a key health metric.
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the principal focus here is connectivity. Some hearing aids that provide Bluetooth capabilities now let users stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for example, to the hearing aids. Google published open-source standards for Android developers that show them how to use specific channels within Bluetooth to produce uninterrupted audio straight to hearing aids. This type of technology is helping hearing aids function almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy movies, music, and more.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Similar to how Netflix suggests shows and movies according to what you’ve watched previously, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how committed your everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid may make personalized suggestions. The places you visit and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being manufactured by a few companies, to learn your behaviors. Some go as far as to crowdsource data about people’s usage habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. All this information allows the hearing aids to determine your tendencies and make adjustments on the fly so that whether you’re watching TV at home or you’re in an IMAX theater (for example), you’ll get the best sound.
Eliminating The Batteries Once And For All
Ya, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? It can be really inconvenient making sure you have extra batteries or that your hearing aids are fully charged. While a hearing aid that doesn’t use any batteries at all may seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology continues to improve. That means longer in-use time, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, overall, not too shabby.