Technology is developing into smarter, more powerful, and smaller devices. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices have more features and take up less space.
So it’s no surprise that hearing aids are no exception. The world’s population is aging and hearing issues, though they can have many different causes, are more common amongst older people. About 37.5 million people and 3 million Canadians report some level of hearing loss according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is going up as age is the strongest demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Of course, if you’re dealing with hearing loss, even one individual with trouble hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Better ways to alleviate hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Advancements are happening, here are some.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Whole Body
This one seems as if it should be obvious. Health and fitness trackers have 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! Or at least, you don’t with some of the latest hearing aids, which in addition to helping fix hearing difficulties like tinnitus, will also track your pulse, your physical activity, and a whole lot more. Sure, a wearable like an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can offer you other types of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend having conversations or listening. How much social engagement you get can actually be an important health metric, particularly as you get older.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the main emphasis here is connectivity. Audio from a device, such as a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth capable. Google published open-source standards for Android developers that show them how to use certain channels within Bluetooth to produce uninterrupted audio straight to hearing aids. This kind of technology is helping hearing aids work almost like super-powered wireless headphones, making it easier to enjoy movies, music, and more.
Big Data Allows Smart Adjustments
Your next hearing aid might make individualized recommendations much like how a Fitbit alerts you to fitness goals or how Netflix recommends your next movie based on your viewing trend. The places you visit and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being developed by a few brands, to learn your habits. Some go as far as to crowdsource information about people’s usage habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be capable of using this information to identify what your situation is and make adjustments to give you the best audio experience.
Finally Ditching The Batteries
Hearing aids that don’t require their batteries replaced? Sound too good to be true? After all, making sure you’ve got spare batteries with you, or even making time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be a pain in the, um, ear. While we’re not likely to see hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a continuous improvement in rechargeable technology. That means longer time in use, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, all in all, not too bad.