When someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it might conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But these days, AI is more science than fiction. When it comes to hearing aids, this is especially true. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely raise the volume of sounds around you. Contemporary, high-end hearing aids use AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a sophisticated computer algorithm that uses data inputs to produce new results. In this way, AI algorithms participate in a type of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. Once the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each separate result.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make changes depending on your routines and your requirements. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear as a result.
How can you hear better with AI?
This may feel a little abstract at first. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can adding AI to the mix improve things? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard full of buttons and dials. (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid contains one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Changing these settings can deliver better sound quality. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without requiring you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a rich neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time situations because of this.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services recommend movies based on your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like futuristic technology initially. AI is also encountered in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more expert at making appropriate decisions the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new advances
These days, hearing aids are incorporating several brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Here are some of the best examples:
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a variety of loud or echo-prone settings. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for example. But with an AI filtering out non-essential information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy environment.
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio qualities come with each individual room you go into. Your hearing aids can deal with some of those properties, but others it doesn’t do so well with. You will hear better in just about any setting with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Basically, you can initiate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a tough time hearing. This then initiates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were certainly tougher during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and remain safe simultaneously.
This is probably only the beginning of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Everyone’s heard it, which is okay, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So when it comes to the field of audiology, how does AI fit in.
Making hearing aids even more useful for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are working on. This research includes new technologies, such as deep neural networks and machine learning. But it isn’t just hearing aids. In the future, AI might be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
As the technology expands and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids simply because it’s the hot new fad. These machine learning algorithms provide some significant benefits to patients. Here are some of those benefits:
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you actually want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn off those algorithms. This means hearing aid users will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this normally means a better overall hearing experience.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you accidentally fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be able to detect the significance and seriousness of your tumble. If there is a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, notify the Authorities. AI can also make your health data easier to interpret, helping you know when you should be exercising more, eating better, or just hydrating more.
- Social engagement: With regard to managing social interaction, individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some research. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a wider variety of environments. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It probably just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
How does this affect patients?
For people with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often lead to real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. An older hearing aid would raise the volume on everything. This isn’t helpful because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, lowering background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI learns to identify sounds and generates a location-by-location algorithm. These programs help when you go back to a particular location or sound profile. In order to better identify and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with everyday sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You will have improved quality of life.
- You will feel less aggravated because you will be able to hear better.
- The cognitive burden will be reduced.
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t available in the majority of hearing aids until recently. An algorithm is, after all, an intricate math equation. However, in part because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing devices are beginning to go down.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less expensive in the near future. Obviously, patients will still have to make important decisions. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more widely available.
Deciding what’s 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. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in situations with many competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. AI-powered hearing aids reduce the listener’s fatigue and make social situations more enjoyable. When the doorbell rings, or when you have a fall AI technology can alert you or a loved one and it can even track your steps. As technology and AI develop, hearing aids will continue to too.
How can AI technology help you? Contact us to set up an appointment!