Technology is evolving into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. Taking up less space while having more functionality is the overall trend.
So it’s no surprise that hearing aids are no exception. The world’s population is aging and hearing issues, though they can have a number of causes, are more common among older individuals. About 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians describe some amount of hearing loss according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is increasing since age is the strongest demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Of course, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, even one individual with difficulty hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing impairment? Let’s have them! Here are some of the innovations that are in the works.
Complete-Body Tracking Through Your Hearing Aids
This is so obvious, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” developments. Health and fitness trackers need to be worn on the body. So, if you’ve already got a device that’s in your ear… do you really need a separate one on your wrist? The answer is no. If you have the latest hearing aid, it can most likely keep track of your pulse, physical activity along with correcting hearing issues such as tinnitus. Sure, a wearable like an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can provide you with other kinds of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend in active conversation or listening. Particularly as you get older, your level of social engagement can actually be an important health metric.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the main focus here is connectivity. Audio from a device, like a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth compatible. Android developers now have open-source specifications supplied by Google which lets them 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
In a similar way to how Netflix recommends shows and movies based on what you’ve watched previously, or your Fitbit buzzes to let you know you’ve reached a goal (or okay, let’s say stepping stone, depending on how ambitious your daily step goals are), your next hearing aid might make personalized suggestions. The places you go and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being developed by several brands, to learn your habits. Some take it one step further, crowdsourcing data on how individuals use their hearing aids anonymizing and then aggregating the data. All this info allows the hearing aids to determine your preferences and make adjustments on the fly so that if you’re watching TV at home or you’re at an IMAX theater (for example), you’ll get the best sound.
Getting Rid of The Batteries Once And For All
Ya, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? It can be really inconvenient making sure you have extra batteries or that your hearing aids are completely charged. While a hearing aid that doesn’t use any batteries at all might seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology keeps improving. That means longer in-use time, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, overall, not too bad.