Like most technology, hearing aids have made progress at an impressive rate. First introduced to the commercial market in 1913, hearing aids used to be the size of filing cabinets until they had advanced into the hearing aids of the 1970s that you may remember: bulky, beige, and hardly inconspicuous. Today, hearing aids are more akin to supercomputers than their old predecessors. While previous hearing aids would amplify all sounds around you and sit uncomfortably around your ear, new hearing aids have new and incredible features that could give sci-fi movies a run for their money, and the best is still yet to come. Here are just a few of the pioneering hearing aid innovations helping the hearing loss community in 2020.
#1: Smaller, Sleeker, Discrete
Hearing aid design has come a long way since their bulky and obvious designs of the 1970s and 80s. With most brands offering hearing aids that are in the ear, invisible in the canal (IIC), and completely in the canal, discretion has become an important aspect of treating hearing loss. Numerous studies have found that patients worry about stigma from others when wearing their hearing aids, which manufacturers and hearing health professionals have sought to eliminate and fix with more conspicuous designs. However, these designs are not one-size-fits-all for your unique ear structure or degree of hearing loss. Because these hearing aids may be smaller, the technology inside may not be equipped to deal with more severe cases of hearing loss.
#2: Tracking Your Brain Activity Through AI
Artificial Intelligence has been a groundbreaking innovation in almost every industry and healthcare is no exception. With AI, hearing aid technology has become even more futuristic, detecting brain activity, reading brain waves, and connecting to smartphone devices. Starkey’s Livio AI is the first-ever behind the ear (BTE) hearing aid to use artificial intelligence to not only provide better hearing quality but also track your overall health. Livio AI understands that those with hearing loss are more susceptible to falling due to balance complications and uses its onboard sensors to track how many times you may fall and helps you become more conscious about balance issues. Connecting to the Livio AI app “Thrive”, your smartphone can now translate speech from different languages and send it directly to your Livio AI hearing aids in whichever language you understand best!
#3: Smartphone Connectivity
Like the Starkey Livio AI hearing aid, manufacturers in 2020 are focusing on hearing aids that have smartphone capabilities. Connecting your hearing aid to a smart device can not only improve your quality of hearing but help you be even more discrete! With smartphone apps, you can now change your hearing aid settings without anyone noticing, giving you the ability to use settings that work best for you in all of your unique situations.
Technology is becoming even more advanced as new innovations are being invented on a daily basis. In this list, we have barely scratched the surface. If you are struggling with hearing loss and have not quite decided on a hearing aid, speak to a hearing health professional to learn all of the amazing features that hearing aids have to offer and whether they could be right for you.