When somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it might conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all better get accustomed to. This is particularly true with regard to hearing aids. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that simply raise the volume of sounds around you. Modern, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a form of technology that utilizes complex algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. AI is capable of using an algorithm to engage in a kind of learning called “machine learning”. As soon as the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate 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 needs. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
Initially, this may seem a bit abstract. After all, hearing aids seem to have a fairly basic function. How can adding AI to the mix improve things? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard loaded with switches and knobs. (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Altering these settings can deliver better quality sound. AI-powered hearing aids move these digital dials and switches automatically, enhancing how you hear without any effort by you.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a rich neural network. Because of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to situations without being programmed to do so.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services recommend movies according to your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like space-aged technology at first. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you utilize these devices, the more efficient they become at making proper decisions.
New advances in AI hearing aids
These days, hearing aids are integrating several brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the most relevant examples include the following:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were definitely tougher during the pandemic when everybody was wearing a facemask. You can remain safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- 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 can’t handle very well. You will hear better in almost any setting with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone locations. A hearing aid can have a hard time with cross-talk, for instance. But with an AI filtering out non-imperative information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying, even in a crowded or noisy setting.
- Edge mode: This is a user activated, AI assist mode. Basically, you can activate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a hard time hearing. When this is initiated AI will begin working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
This is most likely only the start of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI employed in the discipline of audiology?
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can occasionally result in confusion. So when it comes to the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
First off, it means that researchers are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more helpful to patients. New technologies, such as machine learning and deep neural networks, are a big part of this research. But it isn’t just hearing aids. Helping patients hear better and even diagnosing hearing loss are some things that AI will likely do in the future.
As the technology expands and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
In contrast to some other industries, AI isn’t being integrated into hearing aids simply because it’s the hot new thing. These machine learning algorithms provide some significant benefits to patients. Here are a few of those benefits:
- You have more control over how you hear: You can activate AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing devices. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this usually means a better overall hearing experience.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause feedback in your hearing aids. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you will hear is the sound you really want to hear.
- Social engagement: In terms of dealing with social interaction, individuals who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some studies. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of settings. With that being said, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life afloat. Most likely, it simply helps people who are already social better maintain their relationships.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices may be capable of detecting the significance and seriousness of your tumble. In some cases, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically notify authorities or loved ones if there is a severe fall. AI can also make your health information easier to understand, helping you identify when you should be moving more, eating healthier, or just hydrating more.
What this means for patients
For people who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently lead to real-world advantages. Imagine you were at a party having a conversation. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. And sadly, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in 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 generates a location-by-location program. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate 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:
- The cognitive burden will be decreased.
- You will feel less aggravated because you will be able to hear better.
- You will have improved quality of life.
In other words, it’ll be easier to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite friends, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
There was a time when AI wasn’t offered in the vast majority of hearing aids owing to the costs involved. An algorithm is, in fact, a complex math equation. But prices are coming down, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
That isn’t saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still may end up wanting a model that doesn’t include AI capabilities. Obviously, patients will still need to make important decisions. But AI features are becoming more widely obtainable and common.
Figuring out what choice is best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the added cost. But AI makes a huge difference for people who are socially active and go out into noisy situations a lot.
Hearing aids with AI are also helpful for somebody who is rapidly worn out in social scenarios where the chore of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. AI-powered hearing aids decrease 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. Hearing aids will keep improving as AI technology improves.
Want to find out how AI hearing aids can help you? Contact us to make an appointment!