We are living in the golden era of smart devices. Thanks to digital technology and the increasing influence of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, almost everything can be controlled by simple voice commands. Smart thermostats, lightbulbs and doorbells have been popular for a few years already. Now, people with hearing loss in Portland can even find smart hearing aids to help treat their condition.
The Evolution of Hearing Aids
The earliest prototypes of hearing aids became available in the 17th century. These crude devices, called ear trumpets, funneled sounds into the ear canals so those with hearing difficulties could hear better. In 1898, hearing aids that relied on electric currents to amplify sounds were developed. 1920 saw the advent of vacuum tubes, and following World War II, transistors became widely available, allowing for smaller hearing aids that consumed less battery power. During the 1980s, high-speed processors and microcomputers became standard, and the 1990s ushered in the digital era. It’s difficult to imagine what the future holds. Perhaps someday hearing aids will be able to cook your dinner and give you a foot rub!
What is the latest hearing aid technology?
That might be a stretch, but advancing technology has made hearing aids smarter and more reliable than ever before. Some of the most recent innovations in hearing aid technology include the following:
Wireless connectivity entered the mainstream in the 2010s when Bluetooth® technology became available. Today, it’s a standard feature on most hearing aids. Users can directly connect hearing aids to other electronic devices including smartphones, computers and TVs, enabling audio to be streamed directly to their hearing aids. Audio streaming allows you to listen to your favorite TV shows or music at a volume level comfortable to you, without disturbing others. And because multiple devices can be connected, you’re able to take a phone call even if you’re in the middle of listening to something else.
Smart home connectivity
Web-based software known as IFTTT (“IF This Then That”) enables users to wirelessly sync home devices with other electronics. Think of it as the digital heart of Alexa! IFTTT has been responsible for the proliferation of smart devices, and now hearing aids are taking advantage of the technology, too. Users are able to control their hearing aids with simple voice commands and can receive alert sounds such as chimes or spoken notifications directly through their hearing devices.
AI health monitoring
Thanks to the popularity of Fitbit and the Apple Watch, health tracking devices are all the rage. Hearing aid manufacturers are incorporating AI into their instruments, enabling them to turn their devices into health monitors, too. Smart hearing aids will do more than count the number of steps you take on a daily basis; they’ll rely on sensors to track a wide range of stats and deliver a health report card with detailed information about your physical and mental health. They’ll even be able to send alerts to your emergency contacts if you experience a fall.
Smart hearing aids are still in their infancy but are sure to provide additional features we can’t even imagine yet! For more information on treatment solutions for hearing loss, schedule a consultation with a hearing specialist in Portland.