The difference between hearing and understanding

The Latest Trends in Hearing Aid Technology

a pair of premium hearing aids

Hearing aid technology, just like everything else, doesn’t stand still. Manufacturers are continually looking for ways to improve their devices to provide greater functionality for users. Hearing aids have developed enormously over the last ten years and will continue to do so over the next.

Check out these latest trends in hearing aid technology.

Sleeker, more stylish designs

If you’ve been keeping your eye on the consumer electronics sector you’ll have noticed something: devices are becoming much more stylish and attractive. Where Apple lead, others followed.

The same phenomenon is now well and truly underway in the hearing aid industry. Miniaturization of the internal components, like the microphone, means that manufacturers can now play with sleeker, more beautiful and more stylish designs.

Wearers of the most visible of hearing aids, such as behind the ear (BTE) stand to gain the most. Already manufacturers are creating a type of BTE which does away with the mold entirely, replacing it with a translucent wire connected to an in-ear earphone. But soon there will also be highly discreet, if not invisible, BTE sections too.

If you’re sick of your bulky, ugly hearing aid, then it may be time for an upgrade.

Hearing aids which include health assessment equipment

The desire to monitor one’s health is driving the current wearables revolution. People want tools that tell them about their current health status and alert them if something goes wrong.

Hearing aid manufacturers are now beginning to realize that they can include many of the technologies developed by wearables firms into their own devices, providing users with a convenient way to monitor things like blood pressure, sleep patterns, and heart rate.

For older adults, companies are also developing fall detection technology. Fall detection technology uses a combination of onboard gyros and software to detect sudden acceleration or deceleration associated with a fall and then automatically sends an emergency message to a family member or caregiver. If you are at risk of falling, it may be time to upgrade your device.

Mental health monitoring

Some hearing aid manufacturers are taking things a step further, not only monitoring your physical health but your mental condition too. Hearing aids in the future may use a combination of sensors and AI to listen to your tone of voice and what you say to determine your overall mental health and provide feedback to practitioners.

You can understand why manufacturers would be so interested in tracking a person’s mental health with a hearing aid: depression and hearing loss often go hand in hand. An internet-connected hearing aid could collect data and then upload information to the cloud, ready for assessment by a healthcare practitioner. An AI could do a similar job, creating links between a person’s perceived mental state and things like their location or their device settings.

Speech detection

While some people with hearing loss can hear tones of a constant pitch, they can find it challenging to interpret intricate speech patterns accurately. Some manufacturers, however, are looking at ways to get around this by preferentially amplifying certain sounds in speech, while putting others on the back burner. The technology is, again, heavily dependent on AI and software, but in the future, it should hopefully develop to the point where it can provide a tailored experience to the needs of each user.

Once mature, the technology will enable those with hearing aids to listen to conversations with less effort, simulating normal levels of hearing.

Direct connections to the internet

Further in the future, we may begin to see the emergence of hearing aids that can connect directly to the internet. 5G technology may enable wearers to either speak to their hearing aids or, more scarily, think a particular thought, instructing their devices to retrieve information, without a smartphone bridge. Hearing aids, therefore, could become a new class of internet-connected device, able to perform all of the functions of a regular smartphone, minus the screen of course.

Lower power devices

Miniaturising is also leading to other benefits, including a reduction in the power consumption of assistive hearing devices. As processor manufacturing technology approaches five nanometers, we’re likely to see improved battery life performance and higher processing power. Just as with die-shrinks of the past, we’re likely to see manufacturers find more use-cases.

Remote fitting

Because hearing aids are going wireless, it may soon be possible for audiologists to provide remote fittings over the internet. Futurists imagine it happening something like this: you order your hearing aids, go for a hearing test, and then when you receive your hearing aids, fire up Skype, and speak directly to your audiologist. Your audiologist will then play with settings remotely until your comfortable with the setup.

To learn more about the latest hearing aid technology or to discuss an upgrade, contact the Hearing Rehabilitation Center at 248-360-4327.