When someone mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it may arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all better get used to. This is particularly true with regard to hearing aids. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just increase the volume of sounds around you. AI is at the root of contemporary hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that utilizes data inputs to generate new results. In doing this, AI algorithms participate in a type of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. Once the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each separate result.
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 degree of hearing loss. Your hearing aids will be more effective at improving your ability to hear because of this.
How can AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
Initially, this may seem a bit abstract. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, you know that row of big dials and buttons that people utilize to mix music in recording studios? (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Changing these settings can provide better quality sound. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without needing you to do anything.
These smart devices use a rich neural network to emulate human brain responses. Because of this, these hearing aids react in real-time to conditions without being programmed to deal with them.
This may sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to suggest programming according to your viewing history. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you make use of these devices, the more reliable they become at making proper decisions.
New advances in AI hearing aids
These days, hearing aids are incorporating several brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Here are some of the best examples:
- Helping you hear through facemasks: Conversations were certainly tougher during the pandemic when everyone was wearing a facemask. You can remain safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be activated by the user. Basically, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. When this is activated AI will begin working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
- 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 individual across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy setting.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own distinctive acoustic properties. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it can’t handle very well. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic corrections that allow you to hear better in almost any environment.
This is likely only the beginning of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI utilized in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has kind of become a bit of a buzzword. Everyone’s heard it, which is okay, but the difficulty is that AI does different things depending on the contexts. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more useful for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are working on. This research includes new technologies, including deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. In the future, AI might be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
The benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being integrated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, in contrast to other industries. These machine learning algorithms provide some considerable benefits to patients. Here are a few of those benefits:
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing devices give you the option to turn off those algorithms. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this normally means a better all-around hearing experience.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other myriad devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- 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 seriousness of your tumble. In some situations, these hearing aids may be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones if there is a major fall. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
- Social engagement: In terms of dealing with social interaction, individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some studies. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of environments. But that doesn’t necessarily mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It most likely just helps people better preserve the relationships they already have.
How does this impact patients?
For individuals with AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits often result in real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. If you had an older-style hearing aid, it would just boost the volume up. This isn’t useful 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 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 return to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate these algorithms. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better define and amplify important sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- You will have improved quality of life.
- Your brain will experience a lower cognitive load.
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 offered in the majority of hearing aids until recently. An algorithm is, in fact, an intricate math equation. But prices are coming down, partly due to the prevalence of the technology.
This doesn’t mean that every hearing aid you want might have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less pricey in the near future. Clearly, patients will still have to make important choices. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more readily available.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be overkill for somebody who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. But AI makes a big difference for individuals who are socially active and go out into noisy situations a lot.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social scenarios, AI hearing aids would be very 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 as well.
Want to see how AI hearing aids can work for you? Give us a call to set up an appointment!