You might think of your favorite sci-fi movie when someone starts talking about artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all better get accustomed to. This is particularly true when it comes to hearing aids. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just increase the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a type of technology that utilizes sophisticated algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. In doing this, AI algorithms engage in a type of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every specific result because the algorithm does that on its own.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adjust to your personal requirements based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How can AI help hearing aids work better?
This might feel a bit abstract at first. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can adding AI to the situation enhance things? Well, you know that row of big knobs and switches that people use to mix music in recording studios? (Perhaps you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Altering these settings can provide better sound quality. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without requiring you to do anything.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to imitate human brain responses. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time conditions 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 at first. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you utilize these devices, the more reliable they become at making proper decisions.
AI hearing aids – new advances
These days, hearing aids are incorporating multiple brand new improvements in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the best examples include the following:
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Basically, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. When this is initiated AI will start working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a variety of loud or echo-prone settings. Cross talk, for instance, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But even in a noisy setting, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio qualities come with each individual room you walk into. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it doesn’t do so well with. You will hear better in nearly any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was wearing masks, which was good, but certainly made talking with a hearing aid more challenging. You can stay safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
This is likely only the start of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI utilized in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has sort 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 applications. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more beneficial for patients is one of the first and most obvious things that researchers are tackling. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t the whole story. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are a couple of the things that AI will probably do in the future.
Patients will find AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
In contrast to some other industries, AI is not being integrated into hearing aids simply because it’s the popular new thing. Some considerable advantages to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Here are some of those benefits:
- 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. In some cases, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a major fall. AI can also make your health information easier to interpret, helping you know when you should be exercising more, eating better, or just drinking more water.
- Social engagement: In terms of managing social interaction, individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some research. This is most likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of settings. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. Most likely, it simply helps people who are already social better preserve their relationships.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from a wide variety of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a range of other devices. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally means a better all-around hearing experience.
What this means for patients
These benefits often become real-world advantages for people who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. This isn’t practical because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI learns to identify sounds and creates a location-by-location program. These programs help when you go back to a specific location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with day-to-day sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Some of the other practical advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- You will have improved quality of life.
- Your brain will have a decreased cognitive load.
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids until recent times. An algorithm is, after all, a complex math equation. However, partially because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are starting 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. Clearly, patients will still have to make important decisions. But AI functions are becoming more readily obtainable and prevalent.
Finding out what option is best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the extra cost. But AI makes a big difference for people who are socially active and go out into noisy situations a lot.
For someone who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. 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. Hearing aids will keep improving as AI technology improves.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can help you? Make an appointment with us right away.