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Woman wearing hearing aids climbing hill with family and laughing at a joke.

Have you utilized your ear trumpet lately? No? You don’t have one? Because that technology is hundreds of years old. Okay, I suppose that makes sense. Ear trumpets are a bit… antiquated.

The basic shape of the modern hearing aid was developed in the 1950s. And that old style hearing aid is generally the one we remember and picture. But visualizing a hearing aid in this way isn’t realistic because those old hearing aids are out-dated technology. We need to really advance our thinking if we want to recognize how much better modern hearing aids are.

The History of Hearing Aids

So that you can better recognize just how advanced hearing aids have become, it’s helpful to have some perspective about where they started out. If we follow the history back far enough, you can most likely find some form of hearing assistance device as far back as the 1500s (though, there’s no proof that these wooden, ear-shaped items were actually effective).

The “ear trumpet” was perhaps the first somewhat useful hearing assistance mechanism. This construct was shaped like, well, a long trumpet. You would place the narrow end in your ear so that the wide end faced out. At present, you wouldn’t think of this device as high tech, but back then they actually offer some help.

Once electricity was introduced, hearing aids had a significant innovation. The hearing aid that we are familiar with was essentially developed in the 1950s. They were quite rudimentary, relying on transistors and big, antiquated batteries to effectively work. But these devices signify the start of a hearing aid that could easily be worn and hidden. Of course, modern hearing aids might share the same shape and function as those early 1950s models–but their performance goes far beyond what was conceivable 70 years ago.

Modern Features of Hearing Aids

Bottom line, modern hearing aids are technological wonders. And they keep getting better. In many powerful ways, modern hearing aids have been making use of the digital technology of the later twentieth century. Power is the first and most important way. Earlier models contained batteries that had less power in a bigger space than their current counterparts.

And a long list of sophisticated advances come with greater power:

  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss doesn’t manifest through all frequencies and wavelengths uniformly. Perhaps low frequency noise is hard to hear (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids are far more effective because they are able to amplify only the frequencies you have a difficult time hearing.
  • Speech recognition: For many hearing aid users, the supreme goal of these devices is to enable communication. Isolating and boosting voices, then, is a principal feature of the software of many hearing aids–from a packed restaurant to an echo-y meeting hall, this feature is useful in many circumstances.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids are normally made of high tech materials, so they feel more comfortable. While these new materials allow hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also enables them to be more robust. And with the addition of long-lasting, rechargeable batteries, it’s easy to see how not just the inside–but also the outside–of hearing aids have advanced over the years.
  • Health monitoring: Sophisticated Health tracking software is also included in modern hearing aid choices. if you have a fall, for instance, some hearing aids can detect that. There are other features that can inform you about your fitness goals like how many steps that you have taken.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids are now able to communicate with other devices using wireless Bluetooth technology. You will use this feature every day. For instance, hearing aids in the past had a tough time dealing with phone calls because users would hear substantial (and sometimes uncomfortable) feedback. When you connect to your cellphone via Bluetooth, the transition is smooth and communicating is effortless. You will also use Bluetooth functions to participate in a wide range of other electronic activities. Because there isn’t any feedback or interference, it’s easier to listen to music, watch TV–you name it.

Just like rotary phones no longer exemplify long-distance communication, the hearing aids of old no longer represent what these devices are. Hearing aids aren’t what they once were. And that’s a positive thing–because now they’re even better.

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