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Woman wearing hearing aids climbing hill with family and laughing at a joke.

Have you utilized your ear trumpet lately? No? You don’t have one? Because that technology is centuries old. Okay, I suppose that makes sense. Ear trumpets are a bit… archaic.

The basic shape of the modern hearing aid was developed in the 1950s. And for some reason, that’s the hearing aid which has become identified in our collective consciousness. The trouble is that a hearing aid made in the 1950s is just about as out-dated as an ear trumpet. We need to really advance our thinking if we want to recognize how much more advanced modern hearing aids are.

Hearing Aids, Then And Now

It’s helpful to have some context concerning where hearing aids began so that you can better perceive how sophisticated they have become. As far back as the 1500s, it’s possible to find some form of hearing aid (though, there’s no proof that these wooden, ear-shaped artifacts actually worked).

The “ear trumpet” was perhaps the first marginally useful hearing assistance mechanism. This device was shaped like, well, a long horn. You would put the narrow end into your ear so that the wide end faced out. At present, you wouldn’t consider this device high tech, but back then they actually provided some help.

The real revolution came once someone invited electricity to the party. In the 1950s the hearing aid that we are all familiar with was created. In order to work properly, they relied on large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a quite rudimentary design. But a hearing aid that could be easily worn and hidden began with these devices. Admittedly, modern hearing aids might share the same shape and mission as those early 1950s models–but their functionality goes far beyond what was conceivable 7 decades ago.

Modern Capabilities of Hearing Aids

Put simply, modern hearing aids are technological wonders. And they’re constantly developing. Since the late twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been benefiting from digital technologies in a number of significant ways. The first, and the most essential way, is straight forward: power. Modern hearing aids can pack significantly more power into a much smaller area than their earlier predecessors.

And with that increased power comes a long list of innovative developments:

  • Health monitoring: Sophisticated Health monitoring software is also integrated into modern hearing aid options. For example, some hearing aids can recognize whether you’ve fallen. There are other features that can inform you about your fitness goals like how many steps that you’ve taken.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids can now communicate with other devices using wireless Bluetooth technology. This can be very helpful on a daily basis. Old style hearing aids, for example, would have annoying feedback when you would attempt to talk on the phone. When you connect to your phone using Bluetooth, the transition is smooth and communicating is easy. This is true for a wide variety of other situations involving electronic devices. This means simple, feedback free connection to your music, TV, etc.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids feel more comfortable because they are made of advanced materials. While these new materials allow hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also allows them to be more heavy-duty. It’s easy to see how hearing aids have advanced on the outside as well as the inside by adding long lasting and rechargeable batteries.
  • Speech recognition: For lots of hearing aid owners, the biggest goal of these devices is to assist in communication. Some hearing aids, then, have integrated speech recognition software developed to isolate and amplify voices mainly–which can be quite handy in a wide variety of situations, from a packed restaurant to an echo-y meeting room.
  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss commonly occurs as loss of specific wavelengths and frequencies of sound. Maybe low frequency sound gets lost (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids are much more effective because they can boost only the frequencies you have a difficult time hearing.

Just as rotary phones no longer exemplify long-distance communication, older hearing aids no longer represent what these devices are. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And we should be excited because they’re a lot better than they were.

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