Technology improves quickly: in 2006, the typical 40-inch flat screen television would’ve cost you in excess of $1,500. Now, 10 years later, you can find a 40-inch flat screen TV for around $230.
The same has happened with hearing aids, although it’s more likely to escape our notice. We notice that TVs become bigger, better, and more affordable, but we’re blind to the progress in hearing aids because we’re not bombarded with advertising and giant store displays.
Nevertheless, hearing aids, together with all other consumer electronics, have improved substantially over the past 10 years. If analog hearing aids are like the cumbersome 15-inch-tube-TVs of the past, today’s digital hearing aids are like the lightweight 65-inch-Ultra-High-Definition TVs of the present.
Here’s what makes modern hearing aids significantly better, starting with the technology that makes it all achievable.
Hearing aids, like all electronics, have reaped the benefits of the digital revolution. Hearing aids have come to be, in a way, miniaturized computers, with all of the coding versatility you’d expect from a contemporary computer.
The consequence is a product that is small, lightweight, energy-efficient, and capable of manipulating information—information being, in the case of a hearing aid, sound.
So how do contemporary hearing aids manipulate sound? Let’s use an analogy: picture inbound sound as incoming mail and the digital hearing aid as a mailroom.
As mail is received, it’s identified, labeled, stored, and ultimately delivered to the appropriate recipients. In the same manner, digital hearing aids can take incoming sound and can label certain frequencies to be delivered to the amplifier. Speech sounds, for example, can be labeled as essential and sent to the speaker for amplification. Likewise, background noise can be marked as “undeliverable” and returned.
Analog hearing aids didn’t have this “mailroom” function. Incoming sound was delivered all at one time—like if the mail clerk were to give you everyone’s mail and you had to sort through the clutter yourself to locate your own. Speech simply gets lost in the mix with background noise, and you have to work tirelessly to dig it out.
Hearing Aid Advanced Features
Digital control of information is the secret to everything a modern hearing aid can accomplish. Here are a few of the advanced features associated with contemporary hearing aids that digital technology makes possible:
- Speech recognition – digital hearing aids can distinguish and enhance speech with digital processing and directional microphones.
- Background noise suppression – background noise is a lower frequency sound, which the hearing aid can identify and inhibit.
- Clearer phone calls – telecoil technology amplifies the signal from your phone, leading to clear sound without interference.
- Wireless streaming – hearing aids equipped with Bluetooth technology can connect to devices wirelessly, so you can stream music, phone calls, and TV programs directly to your hearing aids.
- Wireless control – compatible hearing aids can be operated with smartphones and digital watches, so you can easily and inconspicuously adjust volume and settings.
Trial Your New Digital Hearing Aids
As you have seen, digital hearing aids are powerful pieces of modern day technology. That’s why virtually all instances of hearing loss can now be efficiently treated, and why the majority of people are pleased with the performance of their hearing aids.
If you’d like to check out this new technology for yourself, give us a call and ask about our hearing aid trial period.