When somebody mentions artificial intelligence (AI), it might arouse thoughts of your favorite sci-fi movie. But today, AI is a reality that we all need to get used to. This is particularly true when it comes to hearing aids. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all hearing aids that merely raise the volume of sounds around you. Modern, high-end hearing aids use AI.
What is artificial intelligence?
AI is a type of technology that utilizes sophisticated algorithms to generate new results from inputs of data. AI is able to use an algorithm to participate in a kind of learning known as “machine learning”. Once the algorithm is working properly, there’s no need to “program” the AI to produce each separate result.
Depending on the extent of hearing loss, lifestyle, and habits, AI in hearing aids can make modifications depending on your routines and your needs. This makes your hearing aid more successful at improving your hearing.
How can you hear better with AI?
This may seem a bit abstract initially. Hearing aids do seem to have a straightforward function, after all. How can adding AI to the situation enhance things? Well, you know that row of big knobs and switches that people use to mix music in recording studios? (You’ve probably seen them in movies.) Your hearing aid contains one of those! (It’s minuscule.) Better audio quality can be attained by adjusting these settings. With hearing aids that are powered by AI, these settings are adjusted automatically without requiring you to do anything.
These smart devices use a deep neural network to imitate human brain responses. Because of this, these hearing aids respond in real-time to conditions without being programmed to deal with them.
This may sound like futuristic science, but it’s the same basic technology that allows streaming services to recommend programming based on your viewing history. Newer cars use this technology to help you drive more safely and your email provider uses it to auto-sort emails into your inbox. The more you use these devices, the more reliable they become at making proper decisions.
AI hearing aids – new innovations
Hearing aids nowadays are helping you hear even better with new developments in AI technology. Some of the best instances include the following:
- Edge mode: This is an assist mode which can be initiated by the user. Basically, when you have a hard time hearing, you can activate something called Edge Mode. This then initiates the AI algorithm and the algorithm will get to work trying to make your hearing clearer.
- Acoustic environment classification: Every room you go into has its own distinctive acoustic characteristics. Some of those qualities are good for your hearing aids; some are bad for your hearing aids. With AI technology, your hearing aid can effectively make automatic adjustments that allow you to hear better in just about any setting.
- Helping you hear through facemasks: During the pandemic, everybody was wearing masks, which was good, but definitely made talking with a hearing aid more difficult. AI algorithms can automatically amplify those voices behind the facemask, helping people with hearing aids hear better and remain safe simultaneously.
- Noisy room filters: New AI algorithms can help to filter out room noise in a variety of loud or echo-prone locations. Cross talk, for example, can often be difficult on a hearing aid. But with an AI filtering out non-essential information, you’ll be able to hear more clearly what the person across from you is saying, even in a packed or noisy setting.
This is most likely only the start of the developments scientists and manufacturers are making.
How is AI utilized in the discipline of audiology?
These days, AI has sort of become something of a buzzword. Depending on the context, AI does different things, which can occasionally cause confusion. So, what does AI mean for the discipline of audiology?
First off, it means that scientists are looking for ways to make hearing aids even more beneficial to patients. New technologies, like machine learning and deep neural networks, are included in this research. But hearing aids aren’t all there is to it. In the future, AI might be able to help with detecting hearing loss or even helping patients avoid future hearing loss.
Patients will find AI in more and more of their devices as the technology becomes more dependable.
AI-assisted hearing aids and their advantages
Unlike some other industries, AI is not being incorporated into hearing aids just because it’s the hot new fad. Some considerable advantages to patients are provided by these machine learning algorithms. Here are a few of those benefits:
- You have more control over how you hear: Many AI-assisted hearing aids give you the option to turn off those algorithms. This means hearing aid wearers will have more control over the quality of sound they hear. And this normally translates into hearing better more frequently.
- Helping you listen to devices: Microphones from cell phones, speaker phones, televisions, and other array devices can cause your hearing aids to feedback. Machine learning algorithms can help filter out this feedback, so all you hear is the sound you actually want to hear.
- Health tracking and fall prevention: When you’re wearing a hearing aid and you take a fall, your AI-assisted device can detect the severity of your fall. In some cases, these hearing aids might be programmed to automatically alert authorities or loved ones in the event of a major fall. Should you be drinking more water, exercising more, eating better? AI can make your health information easier to interpret.
- Social engagement: Studies have revealed that those who use AI-assisted hearing aids are more successful with regard to managing their social engagement. The speech that they hear will be clearer in a wide variety of settings, which probably accounts for better social interaction. That said, it’s not entirely clear that AI is the defining factor in keeping your social life healthy. Most likely, it simply helps those who are already social better manage their relationships.
What this means for patients
These benefits often result in real-world advantages for people who use these AI-assisted hearing aids. Imagine you were at a party having a discussion. An older hearing aid would make everything louder. And unfortunately, background noise also gets boosted making it difficult to hear voices. With AI, the hearing aid can tune in to the noise around you and react the way your brain would, dulling background noise and focusing on your friends’ voices.
AI will generate a location-by-location program to address the various kinds of sounds it detects. If you go back to a particular location or sound profile, AI can initiate these programs. Other hearing aids with AI are programmed with everyday sounds in order to better identify and amplify important sounds.
Here are some other practical advantages to AI-assisted hearing aids:
- You won’t be frustrated because you can’t hear (at least, not as often).
- Your quality of life will improve.
- Your brain will have a lower cognitive load.
In other words, it’ll be simpler to hear your favorite shows, hang out with your favorite friends, and take care of your favorite brain.
Reward vs. cost
Because of the costs, AI wasn’t available in most hearing aids until recently. After all, the device itself has to perform some extreme calculations (an algorithm, after all, is basically a very fancy math problem). However, in part because of the preponderance of the technology, prices for AI hearing aids are beginning to go down.
That’s not saying that those hearing aids will absolutely come down in price soon and you still may end up choosing a model that doesn’t include AI functionality. Clearly, the decision making is in the hands of the patient. But AI features are becoming more widely available and prevalent.
Finding out what option is best for you
Hearing aids with AI may be too much for someone who lives by themselves and stays home a lot. To somebody who is socially involved and finds themselves in situations with many competing sounds, however, it makes a big difference.
For somebody who uses traditional hearing aids and still gets fatigued easily in social situations, AI hearing aids would be very helpful. AI-powered hearing aids decrease the listener’s fatigue and make social situations more enjoyable. When the doorbell rings, or when you have a fall AI technology can alert you or a loved one and it can even track your steps. As technology and AI develop, hearing aids will continue to as well.
Want to find out how AI hearing aids can work for you? Give us a call to set up an appointment!