When was the last time you utilized that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t use one? Because that technology is centuries old. Okay, I suppose that makes sense. Ear trumpets are a bit… antiquated.
The modern(ish) hearing aid, as it happens, was introduced during the 1950s–the basic shape, that is. And that old model hearing aid is generally the one we remember and think of. But thinking of a hearing aid in this way isn’t realistic because those old hearing aids are out-dated technology. We need to really advance our thinking if we want to get an accurate picture of how much more advanced modern hearing aids are.
Hearing Aids, Then And Now
To be able to better comprehend just how advanced hearing aids have become, it’s helpful to have some perspective about where they began. If we trace the history back far enough, you can probably find some form of hearing assistance device as far back as the 1500s (whether any of them ever actually helped you hear better is probably unlikely).
The “ear trumpet” was most likely the first somewhat useful hearing assistance apparatus. This device appeared to be a long horn. The wide end pointed out and the small end was directed into your ear. These, um, devices weren’t exactly high tech, but they did provide some measurable help.
When electricity was introduced, hearing aids experienced a real innovation. The hearing aid that we are familiar with was really created in the 1950s. In order to work properly, they relied on large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a fairly basic design. But these devices signify the beginning of a hearing aid that could easily be worn and hidden. The hearing aids of the 1950s might have appeared similar to modern hearing aids but the technology and capability is worlds apart.
Modern Features of Hearing Aids
Put simply, modern hearing aids are technological masterpieces. And they keep getting better. Since the later years of the twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been taking advantage of digital technologies in several profound ways. Power is the first and most important way. Modern hearing aids can pack substantially more power into a much smaller area than their earlier predecessors.
And with that improved power comes a long list of sophisticated developments:
- Speech recognition: For many hearing aid owners, the supreme objective of these devices is to assist in communication. Isolating and boosting voices, then, is a primary feature of the software of many hearing aids–from a busy restaurant to an echo-y meeting hall, this feature comes in handy in many circumstances.
- Health monitoring: Contemporary hearing aids are also capable of incorporating sophisticated health monitoring software into their settings. if you fall, for example, some hearing aids can recognize that. Other features can count your steps or give you exercise support.
- Construction: Modern hearing aids are normally constructed out of high tech materials, so they feel more comfortable. These new materials permit hearing aids to be lighter and more robust simultaneously. And by adding long-lasting, rechargeable batteries, it’s easy to see how not just the inside–but the outside–of hearing aids have advanced over the years.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss does not occur through all frequencies and wavelengths equally. Perhaps you have a more difficult time hearing high-frequency sounds (or vice versa). Contemporary hearing aids can be programmed to amplify only those sounds that you are unable to hear so well, creating a much more efficient hearing aid.
- Bluetooth connectivity: Modern hearing aids are now able to connect to all of your Bluetooth devices. This can be very useful every day. For instance, hearing aids in the past had a tough time dealing with phone calls because users would hear significant (and sometimes uncomfortable) feedback. With modern hearing aids, you can just connect to your cellphone using Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. This applies to a wide range of other scenarios involving electronic devices. This means simple, feedback free connection to your music, TV, etc.
Just as rotary phones no longer exemplify long-distance communication, the hearing aids of old no longer represent what these devices are. Hearing aids aren’t what they once were. And that’s a good thing–because now they’re even better.