It seems as if all our devices are getting stronger, smarter, and more compact. Generally speaking, the trend is that devices do more and take up less space.
Hearing aids are no exception, and it’s not a surprise. Though hearing problems have a variety of causes, hearing issues are more prevalent among older people, and the world’s population is getting older. Around 37.5 million adults and 3 million Canadians report some level of hearing impairment according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is increasing as age is the best demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, that’s one person too many. Are there any better ways to manage hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Here are some of the advancements that are in the works.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Entire Body
This is so obvious, it’s one of those “Now why didn’t I think of that” developments. Health and fitness trackers have to be worn on the body. So, if you already have a device that’s in your ear… do you really need another one on your wrist? Nope! If you have a newer hearing aid, it can most likely keep track of your pulse, physical activity along with correcting hearing issues such as tinnitus. Hearing aids can also track things that other wearables normally don’t, like the time spent conversing. Particularly as you age your level of social involvement can actually be a key health metric.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have quickly moved from smartphones to in-home devices and the primary emphasis here is connectivity. Some hearing aids that have Bluetooth capabilities now allow users to stream audio directly from a device, like a smart TV for instance, to the hearing aids. Android developers now have open-source specifications provided by Google which lets them use specific Bluetooth channels to stream continuous audio directly to your hearing aid. 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
In a similar way to how Netflix recommends shows and movies based on what you’ve watched previously, or your Fitbit alerts you to tell you that 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 may make personalized recommendations. The places you go and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being developed by a few companies, to learn your habits. Some push it even further, crowdsourcing information on how people use their hearing aids anonymizing and then mixing the data. All this information allows the hearing aids to ascertain your preferences and make adjustments on the fly so that whether you’re watching TV at home or you’re at an IMAX theater (for example), you’ll get the best possible sound.
Finally Losing The Batteries
We know, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t require batteries? After all, making certain 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 a hearing aid that doesn’t use any batteries at all may seem like wishful thinking, rechargeable battery technology keeps improving. That means longer in-use time, faster recharging, and less worrying about batteries, all in all, not too shabby.