When somebody talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it might arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But nowadays, AI is more science than just fiction. When it comes to hearing aids, this is especially true. Gone is the time of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely increase the volume of sounds around you. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a sophisticated computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to produce new results. AI is capable of using an algorithm to take part in a type of learning called “machine learning”. With AI the user doesn’t need to program every individual result because the algorithm does that by itself.
In the case of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal requirements depending on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and level of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
Initially, this might seem a little abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard full of buttons and dials. (You’ve likely seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid includes one of those! (It’s tiny.) Altering these settings can provide better quality sound. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing the way you hear without any effort on your part.
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 allows streaming services to recommend movies according to your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like futuristic technology at first. AI is also encountered in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more adept at making correct choices the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new advances
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everyone was wearing masks, which was good, but certainly made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and remain safe at the same time.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own unique acoustic characteristics. Some of those qualities are helpful for your hearing aids; some are negative for your hearing aids. You will hear better in almost any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Essentially, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. When this is activated AI will start working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a location that has a lot of echoes, or is overly loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. A hearing aid can have a difficult time with cross-talk, for example. But even in a noisy environment, you’ll be capable of hearing more clearly what the person across from you is talking about as AI filters out unwanted information.
This is likely only the start of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI utilized in the field of audiology?
These days, AI has sort of become something of a buzzword. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can in some cases result in confusion. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
First, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more useful to patients. New technologies, including machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But it isn’t just hearing aids. In the future, AI may be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
Patients will find AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
Unlike some other industries, AI isn’t being incorporated into hearing aids simply because it’s the hot new fad. Some significant advantages to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Among those advantages are the following:
- Social engagement: Studies have found that individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to dealing with their social engagement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which probably accounts for better social interaction. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It most likely just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
- Helping you listen to devices: Your hearing aid can get feedback from lots of devices, like televisions, cell phones, speaker phones, and a range of other devices. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can determine the severity of your fall. In some situations, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a major fall. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally means hearing better more often.
What this means for patients
These benefits often result in real-world advantages for those who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. If you had an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can listen to the noise around you and respond the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI learns to recognize sounds and generates a location-by-location program. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can activate these programs. In order to better identify and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with everyday sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- You will have improved quality of life.
- You will feel less aggravated because you will be able to hear better.
- Your brain will have a decreased cognitive burden.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Reward vs. cost
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids until recent times. After all, the device itself has to perform some intense calculations (an algorithm, after all, is essentially a very fancy math problem). But prices are coming down, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
That isn’t saying that those hearing aids will definitely come down in price soon and you still might wind up choosing a model that doesn’t include AI functionality. Clearly, patients will still need to make important choices. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more prevalent and more readily available.
Figuring out what choice is best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be too much for somebody who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. But AI makes a big difference for individuals who are socially involved and go out into noisy situations a lot.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be really helpful. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less tired with AI hearing aids. 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 improve, hearing aids will continue to as well.
How can AI technology help you? Call us to schedule an appointment!