When someone talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it might conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But nowadays, AI is more science than just fiction. With regard to hearing aids, this is particularly true. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that just increase the volume of sounds around you. Modern-day, high-end hearing aids use AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to produce new results. In doing this, AI algorithms take part 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 by itself.
In the instance of hearing aids, AI algorithms can help your hearing aids adapt to your personal requirements based on your behaviors, lifestyle, habits, and degree of hearing loss. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
Initially, this could seem a bit abstract. After all, hearing aids appear to have a pretty straightforward function. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard full of switches and dials. (Maybe you’ve seen them in movies.) There’s a little tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Better quality of sound can be obtained by altering these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without requiring you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a deep neural network. Because of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to situations without being programmed to do so.
This is the same technology that lets streaming services suggest movies based on your viewing history, though it probably sounds like space-aged technology initially. Newer cars utilize this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier utilizes it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you make use of these devices, the more efficient they become at making correct decisions.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
These days, hearing aids are incorporating multiple brand new advances in AI to help you hear even better. Some of the most relevant instances include the following:
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. In essence, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. When this is initiated AI will begin working on clearing up what you’re hearing.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but definitely made conversations 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 simultaneously.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you walk into has its own distinctive acoustic characteristics. Some of those properties are good for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic adjustments that let you hear better in just about any environment.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a number of loud or echo-prone locations. Cross talk, for example, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. 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.
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 in some cases cause confusion. So, what does AI mean for the field of audiology?
Making hearing aids even more helpful for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are working on. This research includes new technologies, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But it’s not 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 develops and becomes more dependable, patients can expect to find artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
Unlike some other industries, AI is not being integrated into hearing aids simply because it’s the hot new thing. Some significant advantages to patients are offered by these machine learning algorithms. Here are some of those benefits:
- You have more control over how you hear: You can turn on AI or turn it off with most AI-assisted hearing aids. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the clarity of sound they hear. And this usually means a better overall hearing experience.
- 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 myriad of other devices. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you really want to hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can determine the severity of your fall. In the event of a severe fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, notify the Authorities. AI can also make your health information easier to interpret, helping you know when you should be moving more, eating better, or just hydrating more.
- Social engagement: When it comes to dealing with social interaction, people who use AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some studies. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which most likely accounts for better social interaction. But that doesn’t automatically mean AI will make-or-break your social life. It probably just helps people better maintain the relationships they already have.
How does this affect patients?
For individuals who use AI-assisted hearing aids these benefits frequently lead to real-world advantages. Imagine you are having a conversation at a party. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be able to identify and boost a person’s voice while lowering undesired noise.
AI learns to identify sounds and generates a location-by-location algorithm. These programs help when you return to a particular location or sound profile. In order to better define and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with day-to-day sounds.
Here are some other practical benefits to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- You will feel less aggravated because you will be able to hear better.
- Your brain will experience a reduced cognitive burden.
- Your quality of life will improve.
You will be able to hang out with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Reward vs. cost
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t offered in most 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 may have AI, or even that those hearing aids will necessarily be less expensive in the near future. Obviously, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI features are becoming more widely obtainable and common.
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 additional cost. But AI makes a huge difference for people who are socially active and go out into loud situations a lot.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets exhausted easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. Social situations are easier and the user will feel less tired with AI hearing aids. AI technology can also send alerts to your phone when the doorbell rings, alert others that you have fallen, and track your steps. As technology and AI develop, hearing aids will continue to as well.
Want to find out how AI hearing aids can work for you? Contact us to set up an appointment!