You may think of your favorite sci-fi movie when somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI). But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get used to. This is especially true with regard to hearing aids. The days when hearing aids simply amplified the volume and were one-size-fits-all are gone forever. AI is at the root of modern hearing aids.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a complex computer algorithm that makes use of data inputs to generate new results. AI is capable of using an algorithm to engage in a kind of learning called “machine learning”. Once the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to generate each individual result.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make adjustments depending on your routines and your requirements. This makes your hearing aid more effective at improving your hearing.
How can AI help hearing aids work more effectively?
This may seem a little abstract initially. Hearing aids do seem to have a basic function, after all. How can things be enhanced by adding AI to the mix? Well, picture a recording studio with the soundboard full of buttons and dials. (You’ve probably seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid contains one of those! (It’s tiny.) Better audio quality can be achieved by altering these settings. 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 rich neural network. Without even being programmed to, these devices react to real-time conditions because of this.
This is the same technology that allows streaming services to recommend movies according to your viewing history, though it most likely sounds like space-aged technology at first. AI is also found in cars and the emails auto-sorted into your inbox. These devices become more adept at making correct choices the more you use them.
New advancements 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:
- Acoustic environment classification: Distinctive audio properties come with each specific room you walk into. Some of those properties are helpful for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effectively make automatic corrections that let you hear better in nearly any setting.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a variety of loud or echo-prone settings. 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.
- Edge mode: This is a user initiated, AI assist mode. In essence, when you have a difficult time hearing, you can activate something known as Edge Mode. When this is initiated AI will begin working on cleaning up what you’re hearing.
- 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 stay safer and hear better simultaneously as AI algorithms can amplify the voice behind the facemask.
This is likely only the beginning of the advancements scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI employed in the field of audiology?
AI has become somewhat of a buzzword these days. Everybody’s heard it, which is okay, but the trouble is that AI does different things depending on the applications. So in terms of the field of audiology, how does AI integrate.
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, like deep neural networks and machine learning. But it isn’t just hearing aids. In the future, AI might be able to help with diagnosing hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
As the technology develops and becomes more reliable, patients can expect to see artificial intelligence in more of their devices.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their benefits
In contrast to some other industries, AI is not being incorporated into hearing aids just because it’s the popular new fad. These machine learning algorithms provide some significant advantages to patients. Among those benefits are the following:
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn off those algorithms. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this normally means hearing better more often.
- Social engagement: In terms of dealing with social interaction, people who utilize AI-assisted hearing aids tend to be more successful, according to some research. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which most likely accounts for better social interaction. With that being said, it’s not completely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life healthy. Likely, it simply helps those who are already social better preserve their relationships.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. This feedback can be filtered out by machine learning algorithms so the sound you actually want to hear is the only sound you will hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re using a hearing aid and you take a tumble, your AI-assisted device can determine the seriousness of your fall. If there is a serious fall, these hearing aids can, in some cases, notify the Authorities. AI can also make your health information easier to understand, helping you know when you should be exercising more, eating healthier, or just hydrating more.
How does this impact patients?
These benefits frequently lead to real-world advantages for people with these AI-assisted hearing aids. 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 difficult to hear voices. An AI hearing aid is intelligent and will be capable of identifying and boosting a person’s voice while lowering unwanted noise.
AI will generate a location-by-location program to address the various types of sounds it picks up. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can activate these programs. In order to better identify and amplify important sounds, some AI hearing aids are programmed with day-to-day sounds.
Some of the other practical benefits of AI-assisted hearing aids include the following:
- Your brain will experience a reduced cognitive load.
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
- You will have improved quality of life.
In other words, it’ll be easier to follow along with your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite friends, and take care of your favorite brain.
Cost vs. reward
Due to the costs, AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids until recent times. An algorithm is, in fact, a complex math equation. But prices are decreasing, 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 automatically be less costly in the near future. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But, it does mean that these AI-assisted features are becoming more common and more widely available.
Deciding what’s best for you
For someone who lives alone and doesn’t go out much, hearing aids with AI may not be worth the added cost. To somebody who is socially active and finds themselves in situations 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 scenarios where the chore of keeping up with conversations using a traditional hearing aid is exhausting. Social situations are simpler and the user will feel less exhausted with AI hearing aids. 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 continue to improve as AI technology improves.
Want to find out how AI hearing aids can help you? Give us a call to schedule an appointment!