By Monica Duve, AuD
As I write this, it is a late…late hour on a Friday night; well now Saturday morning. Twenty years ago, I would have been out still lingering with friends at a probably not so classy club. Now my weekends are full of Scouts and soccer and Barbie doll games. It’s amazing and awesome where life takes us. All those years ago, I remember a college mentor telling us, “someday even normal hearing people will benefit from hearing aids”. We were naïve students just wanting to escape academia and get out there and work. That was 1995, the year of the very first digital hearing aids. We were sure that technology would take care of all the struggles of the hearing impaired and we were eager to prove it. Twenty years later, hearing impaired people wearing great hearing aids still face challenges, especially hearing in difficult environments like the outdoors and in crowds. Technology in sound processing continues to evolve for a reason. Here is a preview of what’s here, and coming down the hearing aid pipeline
The “made for smart phone” hearing aids. Several manufacturers now offer smart hearing aids that not only have great sound quality and noise suppression capabilities, but also offer wireless connection with smart phones, televisions and other media devices. Streaming is a word associated with modern wireless audio systems to mean that sound from a device, like a tablet or smart phone, can be transmitted without the need of a physical plug-in headset. Most commonly, this has been used as a “hands-free” solution for telephone conversations. Smart phone hearing aids also allow a listener to remotely control the hearing aids and even self-tune the sound quality, allowing personalization of best sound in any situation.
A whole new category of audio devices on the market is called a “Hearable”. Hearables do not incorporate hearing aid processing yet, but are a combination streaming headset and fitness band. Thus, these smart headphones pick up signals, wirelessly of course, from media devices. Incredibly, they also offer fitness monitoring, much like the trendy electronic bands that fitness lovers wear. This combination device monitors basic fitness, like steps taken or pulse, directly from the ears. It could even feasibly alert medical services if the system detected physical distress. This technology is expected to blend with hearing assistance technology over the next few years. Hearing aids are becoming not only necessary, but desirable!
Along the same lines of merging hearing aid technology with other innovations is what I call the ultra-smart hearing aid. In a video I saw today, the hearing aid system not only helps you communicate but also can run your whole house. The closing of your battery doors in the morning triggers your programmed house lights to come on, resets your home alarm and even starts your morning coffee. Combining smart hearing aids with other smart technologies is not as far in the future as some may think. To add to that, even “regular” professional aids are making bigger bounds processing conversations in blizzards of background noise or greatly enhancing the joy of listening to, and playing music again.
Twenty years sure goes by fast. There sure have been huge changes both in my own life and in the hearing aid field. The constant evolution of life and technology is fascinating to me. That is why I will be up for the next few hours, and maybe the holiday weekend, studying the latest and greatest so that Killean Audiology & Hearing Aid Centers always offers the best solutions and widest variety of choices for those who struggle to hear. Consultations are at no charge. Make your future better and call us today! If you need hearing help, there is a solution for you!