One of the most common medical harms that can occur in people is hearing loss. Hearing loss affects millions of people around the world. One of the few ways that this can be treated is through the use of hearing aids. These devices represent a beautiful marriage of technology and innovation. With the best looking technology still on the horizon, it is a good time to take a glance back at the way that hearing aids have evolved over the last few centuries.
Carbon Microphone Hearing Aids
Carbon microphone hearing aids were one of the interstitial steps between old and new technology. They were made of magnetic receivers, the microphone, a large battery, and a metal diaphragm. This complex device would channel sound through the microphone where the sound would be amplified in order to push the carbon across the receivers and into the diaphragm of the structure. This would cause the sound to be produced at a very loud volume so that the person with hearing loss could interpret it. While it was a step forward, it also came with many different downsides.
The sound would come through in a very poor quality, as one might imagine of carbon filaments striking metal. Also, it was so large and heavy that it would have to be kept in the home so that it could be used by someone sitting in a chair or lying down.
Vacuum Tube Hearing Aids
One of the last hearing aids that was developed before the electric and digital age was the vacuum tube hearing aid. These devices used phone and radio pieces in order to draw in sound and then translate it into electrical impulses that would be able to get amplified inside of the vacuum tube. From there, the sound would be fed through the machine and then put through another phone receiver where the person could hear the sound. This mobile hearing aid was well-loved by many, and inspired many future inventors to work hard to make the leap into completely electrical hearing aids.
Before any type of hearing aids were actually made for such a purpose, hearing trumpets were the number one way to capture errant sound. These were very simple in the sense that they only needed a large open end and then a smaller part that could be fit into the ear or over the ear in some cases. Made from metal or wood, they were often crafted to be comfortable and then directed at the sound that the listener wanted to channel. While it could not make sound louder, this prompted many people in the 20th century to do more for hearing loss.