When somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it may conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But nowadays, AI is more science than just fiction. When it comes to hearing aids, this is particularly true. The days when hearing aids merely increased the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone forever. Modern, high-end hearing aids utilize AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a sophisticated computer algorithm that utilizes data inputs to generate new results. In this way, AI algorithms engage in a kind of learning, appropriately called “machine learning”. When the algorithm is working correctly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each separate result.
Depending on the degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make modifications depending on your routines and your needs. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
Initially, this might seem a little abstract. After all, hearing aids seem to have a rather basic function. 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.) Your hearing aid has one of those! (It’s tiny.) Changing these settings can deliver better sound quality. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without requiring you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid mimics human brain response using a deep neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time situations because of this.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services suggest movies based on your viewing history, though it probably sounds like space-aged technology at first. AI is also encountered in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. The more you utilize these devices, the more efficient they become at making proper decisions.
New advances in AI hearing aids
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new advancements in AI technology. Here are a few of the best examples:
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a setting that has a lot of echoes, or is overly loud, new AI technology algorithms can separate out room noise. Cross talk, for instance, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. 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.
- Acoustic environment classification: Unique audio properties 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 almost any environment with AI technology making practical automatic adjustments.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but certainly made talking with a hearing aid more challenging. You can remain safer and hear better at the same time as AI algorithms can amplify the voice beneath the facemask.
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. Essentially, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. This then initiates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
This is most likely only the start of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI utilized in the discipline of audiology?
AI has become a bit of a buzzword these days. Depending on the context, AI does different things, which can sometimes result in confusion. 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 working on. This research includes new technologies, including deep neural networks and machine learning. But it’s not just hearing aids. In the future, AI might be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients prevent future hearing loss.
As the technology develops and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
The advantages of AI-assisted hearing aids
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, unlike other industries. These machine learning algorithms offer some considerable advantages to patients. Here are a few of those benefits:
- Social engagement: When it comes to dealing with social interaction, people who use AI-assisted hearing aids are likely to be more successful, according to some studies. This is likely because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of environments. That said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life afloat. It most likely just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
- 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 often means hearing better more often.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can detect the seriousness of your fall. In some situations, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones if there is a severe fall. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. Machine learning algorithms can help by filtering out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
How does this affect patients?
For people who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently become real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a discussion at a party. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. This isn’t helpful because the conversation you actually care about will get drowned out by background noise. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while dulling unwanted noise.
AI will create a location-by-location program to address the various kinds of sounds it picks up. These programs help when you go back to a specific location or sound profile. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Here are some other practical benefits to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- You will feel less frustrated because you will be able to hear better.
- Your quality of life will improve.
- Your brain will experience a reduced cognitive load.
In other words, it’ll be easier to follow along with your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite people, and take care of your favorite brain.
Reward vs. cost
Due to 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 decreasing, 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 automatically be less expensive in the near future. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI features are becoming more widely available and prevalent.
Deciding what’s best for you
Hearing aids with AI might be too much for someone who lives by themselves and stays put a lot. To somebody who is socially active and finds themselves in conditions with many competing sounds, however, it makes a huge difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also practical for somebody who is quickly worn out in social scenarios where the task of keeping up with conversations utilizing a traditional hearing aid is fatiguing. 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 work for you? Give us a call to make an appointment!