Technology in Hearing Aids Today

Modern hearing care has come a long way in terms of enhancing the quality of life associated with hearing health. Modern hearing aids include advanced sound processing and several customizable features, including smartphone apps that connect directly to your devices.

Forget hearing aids from over a decade ago. Whether you are tech-savvy or intimidated by computers, clients are often impressed by the simplicity and ease of using hearing aids!

Hearing aids of today are small computers that adapt millions of times per second to provide the optimal speech signal in a variety of listening conditions and reduce listening fatigue.

Artificial Intelligence, features, and background noise suppression are all included in today’s modern hearing aid’s technology level.

Latest Innovations In Hearing Aid Technology

As technology advances, digital hearing aids become more automated and equipped with more capabilities to facilitate communication in challenging listening environments. Hearing aids with newer technologies are more expensive and have greater benefits. Advanced hearing aids are more likely to include the following characteristics. These kinds of advanced functions are exclusive to hearing aids and cannot be found in personal hearing amplifiers.

Some high-end hearing aids are equipped with artificial intelligence (AI), allowing them to access a deep neural network for sound processing. By recording volume control settings and programme preferences for certain sound situations, hearing aids can begin to automatically make these adjustments when the environment is recognised. Essentially, a DNN enables hearing aids to replicate how the brain would perceive sound in the absence of hearing loss.

All hearing aids from major manufacturers have the maximum IP rating of 68, which protects them against damage caused by moisture, wax, sweat, etc. and extends their lifespan. Latest in technological advancement as the world’s first rechargeable, waterproof hearing aid, Phonak’s Audéo Life ushers in the next phase of client confidence.

Bluetooth compatibility is a wireless capability that permits hearing aids to connect to mobile phones and other Bluetooth-enabled devices, typically via an intermediary device. Bluetooth technology can increase the signal-to-noise ratio and remove microphone feedback because the signal skips the microphone and enters the hearing aid’s processor directly. Additionally, Bluetooth connections are less susceptible to interference than FM systems (see below under basic features).

The majority of today’s modern hearing aids include smartphone applications that allow the user to make changes, communicate with their hearing care provider, and check battery life. Notably, some of them function as assistive listening devices by sending phone calls and other sound sources directly to the user’s hearing aids. Some can also convert speech to writing and translate between several languages.

Rechargeable batteries are increasingly integrated into hearing aids, eliminating the need for regular battery replacements. Not only are they environmentally sustainable, but they also provide better assistance and confidence to individuals with physical dexterity issues. Majority of hearing aid devices nowadays offer rechargeable options.

All hearing aids process sound, which means that when sound enters the hearing aid, it must be divided into bands of sound (also called “channels”) and digitised before it can be amplified. The greater the flexibility of the hearing aid to band sounds that are enhanced for your specific hearing loss prescription, the superior the hearing aid. If you have solely high-frequency hearing loss, for instance, a higher-quality hearing aid may only amplify sounds within that frequency range, whereas a less expensive one may boost both mid- and high-frequency noises. This adjustment is referred to as the frequency response of the hearing aid.

The most advanced hearing aids offer various tinnitus masking capabilities. They can be programmed by hearing care professional to generate sounds that disguise tinnitus or ringing in the ears. (However, for many people with tinnitus, merely enhancing the noises you’ve been missing with a hearing aid will help reduce tinnitus, which frequently occurs in older individuals with hearing loss.)

Wireless technology allows two hearing aids to work together as one system. Digital sound processing decisions are based on the combined sound input from both hearing aids. Binaural processing. This technology mimics the brain’s dual-ear processing and reduces manual adjustments.

For example, If one hearing aid is activated for directional mode, both devices will switch in that mode at once. Wireless hearing aids communicate data in nanoseconds, faster than the human brain can detect. Adjustments are perceived in real-time for the wearer. Synchronized sound processing improves sound quality for the wearer.

Directional microphone systems are intended to amplify and focus on speech while minimising sounds from other directions. Various system configurations obstruct more or less of the noises emanating from behind the wearer. These systems improve speech comprehension in noisy environments. Hearing aids with directional microphone systems are more satisfying than hearing aids without them.

Digital noise reduction systems examine the signal to ascertain whether or not it contains unwanted noise. If this undesired noise is recognised, this technology lowers the noise level. This feature reduces the annoyance of background or environmental noise and improves your listening comfort. It has been demonstrated that digital noise reduction is effective and preferred by hearing aid users.

Impulse noise reduction serves a similar objective as digital noise reduction by enhancing listening comfort. This method detects and instantaneously dampens any transiently loud sounds, such as cutlery rattling.

Although its use is quite particular, wind noise reduction can make a world of difference for outdoor enthusiasts such as cyclists and sailors. Wind noise reduction detects the wind’s impact on the hearing aid microphones and prevents or minimises its amplification.

Hearing aids produce feedback (whistling), which is mitigated by feedback management systems. These feedback loops produce an irritating whistling sound that can interfere with your comfort. Different feedback management algorithms can be applied for simple and advanced hearing aids. Simple feedback management systems can minimise overall amplification to eliminate whistling. Advanced feedback management techniques diminish or eliminate whistling without reducing the hearing aid’s overall amplification.

Data logging preserves information about your listening environments, programmes, volume levels, and other preferences. When you return for a follow-up appointment, the hearing healthcare practitioner can access this information and may use it to better customise your hearing aid.

Various Technology Levels

Every manufacturer of hearing aids offers entry-level, mid-range, and high-end technologies. As the degree of technology progresses from fundamental to advanced, the device’s number of features grows, as does its price. Although basic hearing aids can be programmed on a computer with most of the features mentioned above, they are less adaptable and automated than hearing aids with sophisticated technology. They often have limited options for fine-tuning to meet atypical patterns of hearing loss.

In addition, basic digital hearing aids typically require manual modifications in specific listening conditions, such as adjusting the level manually or pressing a button to eliminate background noise.

You will benefit from entry-level hearing aids if your daily routine incorporates quiet locations with little competing background noise. In contrast, if you lead a more active, sociable (noisy) lifestyle, mid-range and high-end hearing aids will assist you more.

It all boils down to the individual listening conditions you experience.

Comparatively, entry-level technology provides less noise reduction than high-end technology, which provides maximal noise suppression characteristics for the clearest possible speech signal in complicated, noisy surroundings.

What are the advantages of these features in the actual world?

Background noise is any noise that interferes with your capacity to hear, comprehend, or pay attention to the desired signal.

In reality, we inhabit a hectic, noisy environment. People frequently receive many incoming auditory impulses at varying input levels, which vary from moment to moment.

Consider the potential for noise when dining at your favourite restaurant. Your brain hears sounds coming from all directions, including dishes clanging, people conversing and laughing at other tables, and waiters scurrying around. You are wearing your new hearing aids and conversing with a friend who is seated opposite you at the table. Your hearing aids are simultaneously reducing impulse noises such as silverware clattering on a plate (impulse noise reduction), reducing the hum of the ventilation system above (digital noise reduction), suppressing the voices of the people at the tables behind you (directional microphone system), and storing information about the listening environment for later fine-tuning (data logging). All of this is done automatically as the speech signal from your friend is being amplified and shaped. You are at liberty to unwind and enjoy the punchline.

This is but one example of the modern hearing aid technology at action.

Hearing aid technology is acutely aware of all incoming speech and environmental noise signals.

The more complex your listening situations, the greater the benefits of mid-range and high-end hearing aid technologies.

As a result of the adaptability of the computer chip, we can continue to adjust your hearing aids in the future if your lifestyle and/or hearing loss change, however it is crucial to choose beforehand the level of noise suppression you desire for your lifestyle.