by: Dr. Authur Zinaman
There’s no debate that advancing technology has transformed hearing aids for the better. So many recent changes to hearing devices have occurred it’s sometimes difficult to keep up. Today’s Blog will outline the basics of how new technology creates medical hearing devices which do much more than improve hearing.
Hearing aids were available in the late 1800s, but were very large and you had to hold it up to your ear. The first smaller useable models were developed in the early 1950s.
Background noise reduction? Nope. Automatic volume changes? Nope. Customizable for a wide frequency range? Nope. Multiple programs? Connectivity? Compression? Nope, nope, and nope. These large hearing aids typically amplified all sounds within a narrow range providing limited benefit for the user.
Patients in those early days of hearing aids would be hard pressed to recognize devices of today. They look smaller and thinner but more importantly, they function differently.
Manufacturers have incorporated features into their products which communicate with other electronic devices. This is called connectivity and is important because it changes your hearing aid into a bio-medical device.
I have found that patients enjoy the convenience of using their smart phone with their hearing aids. Difficulty hearing the conversation on your cell phone? Because of connectivity you can answer the phone and hear the caller through your hearing aids directly and clearly.
You don’t need a smartphone to use hearing aids but a smartphone app makes adjustments easier. Volume, customized sound, multiple memories, all easily done privately from the screen on your phone.
Streaming audio refers to hearing directly from another electronic device such as a TV. Hearing the audio signal wirelessly ‘beamed’ from TV to your hearing aids offers superior sound quality when viewing. The app also turns your phone into a remote microphone to stream the speaker’s voice directly to your hearing aids. Hearing music ‘stream’ directly into your hearing aids improves the listening experience with crystal clear sound.
The first hearing aids to use artificial intelligence (or AI) successfully came about in 2018. Hearing aids using AI to provide superior sound quality also has the ability to monitor your mental and physical health.
The addition of Bio-Sensors used with hearing aids may improve health and can keep track of vital body functions. These Bio-sensors use AI to monitor brain and body activity which can then be used to reduce the risk of a variety of diseases.
Many people with hearing loss also have balance issues and tend to fall more. Motion sensitive bio-sensors can assess how many times you fall and alert you to seek assistance as needed.
AI hearing aids which can track blood pressure, EEG, and temperature? Yes, and this begins to show the widening functionality of hearing aids. No longer is a hearing device used solely for improvement of hearing.
Patients who suffer co-morbidities such as heart disease or high blood pressure would benefit by continuous vital signs monitoring. In the future, an MD or emergency personnel could be notified automatically if a life threating situation is detected.
For users who stay fit or who exercise frequently, AI can track work-out progress. Miles walked or ran, heart rate, and other health parameters can be assessed.
It is hoped that as AI technology becomes available in more hearing aids, it could place your instruments as an important part of your health care. The readings from your device can assist your physician to be more aware of body functions over a long period of time and prescribe more accurate treatment measures.
Contact Hearing Partners of South Florida to learn more about AI devices or to discuss how advanced technology can benefit you.
Hearing Partners of South Florida
Delray – 561-638-6530 Boynton – 561-736-6002 Jupiter – 561-888-7260