When someone talks about artificial intelligence (AI), it may conjure thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get used to. With regard 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, high-end hearing aids use AI.
Artificial intelligence – what exactly is it?
AI is a form of technology that utilizes sophisticated algorithms to produce new results from inputs of data. In doing this, AI algorithms engage in a kind of learning, aptly called “machine learning”. When the algorithm is working properly, 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 changes depending on your behaviors and your requirements. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
This may seem a bit abstract at first. After all, hearing aids appear to have a rather basic function. How can things be improved by adding AI to the mix? Well, imagine a recording studio with the soundboard full of switches and dials. (You’ve most likely seen them in movies.) There’s a tiny one of those inside of your hearing aid. Adjusting these settings can deliver better quality sound. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are changed automatically without needing you to do anything.
This AI hearing aid imitates human brain response using a deep neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices respond to real-time conditions because of this.
This may sound like space-age science, but it’s the same fundamental technology that allows streaming services to recommend programming according to your viewing history. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email supplier uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. These devices become more adept at making appropriate decisions the more you use them.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
Hearing aids these days are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Some of the most relevant instances include the following:
- Noisy room filters: If you’re in a setting that has lots of echoes, or is overly loud, new AI technology algorithms can filter out room noise. Cross talk, for example, can often be hard on a hearing aid. 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 environment.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was masking up, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more challenging. 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: Distinctive audio qualities come with each specific room you go into. Your hearing aids can handle some of those properties, but others it doesn’t do so well with. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effortlessly make automatic corrections that let you hear better in almost any setting.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. Basically, you can activate something known as edge mode whenever you’re having a difficult time hearing. This then triggers the AI algorithm and the algorithm will start working to make your hearing clearer.
This is most likely only the beginning of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
AI for the discipline of audiology
These days, AI has sort of become a bit of a buzzword. Depending on the application, AI does different things, which can occasionally lead to confusion. So when it comes to the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
Making hearing aids even more helpful for patients is one of the first and most evident things that researchers are tackling. This research includes new technologies, such as deep neural networks and machine learning. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. In the future, AI may be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
Patients will see AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more reliable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
AI is being incorporated into hearing aids not because it’s the popular new fad, unlike other industries. These machine learning algorithms provide some significant benefits to patients. Among those benefits are the following:
- 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. This is probably because the speech they hear is clearer in a larger number of environments. Having said that, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the deciding factor in keeping your social life afloat. Most likely, it simply helps those who are already social better maintain their relationships.
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn those algorithms on or off. So the clarity of sound users hear will be more in their control. And this usually means a better all-around hearing experience.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array 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.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: If you happen to fall while you’re wearing your hearing aids, your AI-assisted devices might be able to detect the significance and seriousness of your tumble. In the event of a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, alert the Authorities. Should you be hydrating more, exercising more, eating healthier? AI can make your health data easier to interpret.
How does this impact patients?
These benefits frequently translate into real-world advantages for individuals who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. If you were using an older-style hearing aid, it would just crank the volume up. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it impossible to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while lowering undesired noise.
AI learns to identify sounds and generates a location-by-location program. These algorithms help when you go back to a particular location or sound profile. 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 won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
- The cognitive load will be decreased.
- You will have improved quality of life.
You will be able to spend time with friends again, watch your favorite shows, and take good care of your brain, in other words.
Cost vs. reward
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t offered in most hearing aids until recent times. An algorithm is, in fact, an intricate math equation. But prices are coming down, partially 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 AI functions are becoming more readily available and common.
Deciding what’s best for you
For somebody who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI might not be worth the extra cost. To someone who is socially active and finds themselves in conditions with lots of competing sounds, however, it makes a huge difference.
Hearing aids with AI are also practical for somebody who is rapidly worn out in social situations 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. 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? Call us to set up an appointment!