It seems like all our devices are getting stronger, smarter, and smaller. In general, the trend is that devices have more features and take up less space.
So it’s not surprising that hearing aids are no different. Though hearing issues have a number of causes, hearing problems are more common among older people, and the world’s population is getting older. Around 37.5 million adults and 3 million Canadians report some level of hearing impairment according to the National Institutes of Health. And that number is rising since age is the strongest demographic variable to predict hearing loss.
Naturally, if you’re suffering from hearing loss, even one individual with trouble hearing, i.e. you, is one person too many. Are there any better ways to deal with hearing loss? Bring ‘em on! Here are some of the innovations that are in the works.
Using Your Hearing Aid to Track Your Whole Body
This one seems like it should be obvious. Devices that provide different types of health tracking are almost always worn and need to be worn close to the body. So do you really need a device on your wrist if you already have one in your ear? Nope! If you have a newer hearing aid, it can most likely track your pulse, physical activity along with improving hearing problems like tinnitus. Sure, a wearable like an Apple Watch can do that, but hearing aids can offer you other kinds of input that can be helpful to tracking health, like how much time you spend in active conversation or listening. Especially as you get older, your level of social engagement can actually be an important health metric.
Better Streaming Straight to You
Connectivity is the primary watchword, as virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa have moved from smartphones to in-home devices seamlessly. Audio from a device, such as a smart TV can now be streamed directly to your hearing aid if it is Bluetooth compatible. Google released open-source standards for Android developers that show them how to use specific channels within Bluetooth to produce uninterrupted audio directly to hearing aids. This technology is making things like music and movies more satisfying by acting like super-powered wireless headphones.
Smart Adjustments From Big Data
Your next hearing aid may make individualized recommendations much like how a Fitbit alerts you to fitness objectives or how Netflix recommends your next movie based on your viewing trend. The places you visit and the adjustments you make will allow these new hearing aids, being developed by a few companies, to learn your behaviors. Some go as far as to crowdsource information about people’s usage habits, making it anonymous then aggregating it. So whether you’re watching TV at home, or in an IMAX theater, your hearing aids will be capable of using this information to know what your situation is and make adjustments to give you the most enjoyable audio experience.
Finally Losing The Batteries
We know, it sounds too good to be true, hearing aids that don’t need batteries? After all, making sure you’ve got spare batteries on hand, or even making time to recharge your hearing aid batteries, can be annoying. While we’re not likely to get hearing aids that don’t need any batteries, there has been a consistent advancement in rechargeable technology. You’ll get faster charging time, longer use time, and worry less about batteries, which seems pretty good.