It seems like all our devices are getting stronger, smarter, and smaller. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
Hearing aids are no exception, and it’s not a surprise. The world’s population is getting older and hearing issues, though they can have a variety of causes, are more common amongst older individuals. About 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe some level of hearing loss according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is increasing because age is the best demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Naturally, if you’re dealing with hearing loss, even one person with trouble hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Advancements are happening, here are some.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Whole Body
This is so intuitive, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” innovations. Health and fitness trackers need to be worn on the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? Nope! If you have a newer hearing aid, it probably can track your pulse, physical activity along with improving hearing issues such as tinnitus. Sure, a wearable such as an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can provide you with other kinds of input that can be helpful to monitoring health, like how much time you spend in active conversation or listening. Particularly as you age your level of social engagement can actually be an important health metric.
Connectivity is the important watchword, as virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa have moved from smartphones to in-home devices without missing a beat. Audio from a device, like a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth capable. Android developers now have open-source specifications provided by Google which allows them to use certain Bluetooth channels to stream continuous audio directly to your hearing aid. This technology is making things like music and movies more satisfying by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Your next hearing aid could make individualized recommendations much like how a Fitbit alerts you to fitness goals or how Netflix recommends your next movie in line with your viewing trend. Several manufacturers are working on hearing aids that will learn both from the adjustments you make and from listening to the places you go. Some take it one step further, crowdsourcing information on how individuals use their hearing aids anonymizing and then mixing the data. All this information enables the hearing aids to determine your preferences and make adjustments on the fly so that whether you’re at home watching TV or you’re at an IMAX theater (for example), you’ll get the best sound.
Finally Ditching The Batteries
Hearing aids that don’t need their batteries changed? Sound too good to be true? After all, making certain you’ve got spare batteries on hand, or even making time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be a pain in the, um, ear. While we’re not likely to get hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a continuous improvement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get quicker charging time, extended use time, and less worry about batteries, which seems pretty good.