It seems as if all our devices are getting smarter, stronger, and more compact. Taking up less space while having more functionality is the general trend.
So it’s not surprising that hearing aids are no exception. The world’s population is getting older and hearing issues, though they can have a variety of causes, are more common among older people. Around 37.5 million adults and 3 million Canadians describe some level of hearing impairment according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is rising since age is the strongest demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Naturally, if you’re dealing with hearing loss, even one individual with difficulty hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing impairment? Bring ‘em on! Innovations are happening, here are a few.
Whole-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This one seems as if it should be obvious. Devices that provide different kinds 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? Nope! If you have the latest hearing aid, it can most likely keep track of your pulse, physical activity along with improving hearing issues such as tinnitus. Hearing aids can also monitor things that other wearables normally don’t, like the time spent conversing. How much social involvement you get can actually be a vital health metric, especially as you age.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Connectivity is the primary watchword, as virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa have advanced from smartphones to in-home devices seamlessly. Some hearing aids that offer Bluetooth capabilities now allow users to stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for example, to the hearing aids. Google published open-source specifications for Android developers that show them how to use specific channels within Bluetooth to provide uninterrupted audio directly to hearing aids. This technology is making things like music and movies more satisfying by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
In a similar way 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 driven your everyday step goals are), your next hearing aid could make personalized suggestions. 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 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 ascertain your preferences and make adjustments on the fly so that if you’re at home watching TV or you’re at an IMAX theater (for example), you’ll get the best possible sound.
Finally Ditching The Batteries
Ya, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? It can be very inconvenient making sure you have spare batteries or that your hearing aids are completely charged. While we’re not likely to get hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a consistent advancement in rechargeable technology. That means longer time in use, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, overall, not too shabby.