Amazing Advances in Hearing Aid Technology
Hearing aid technology has made rapid advances. Better quality hearing support is now easier to achieve with a well-prescribed hearing aid.
Over the last decade, hearing aids have undergone revolutionary changes, mostly thanks to progress in digital technology. Over 20 years ago, digital signal processing (DSP) was incorporated into hearing aids—that changed hearing aid technology forever, and it has just gotten better since then.
Here are some of the advances that have been made and that continue to be improved, as well as a glimpse into what the future might hold for technological advances in hearing aids.
Receiver-in-the-canal Hearing Aids
These hearing aids are much smaller than the traditional behind-the-ear (BTE) devices, and they have a much smaller tube as well. The RIC hearing aids have become very popular as the feedback qualities in the devices have improved, and the amplification has also improved.
Elimination of Wind Noise
In a normal ear without a hearing aid, the ear shape naturally eliminates wind noise while maintaining hearing. However, since most hearing aids sit above the ear, that natural wind protection doesn’t happen. These days, hearing aid microphones are very advanced with directional effects set to the front of the aid to eliminate low wind velocity while still maintaining hearing and speech understanding.
Hearing Aids with Directional Microphones
Many people have hearing issues when significant background noise is present. The speech typically comes from the front, but the background noise comes at the hearing aid from all different directions. Today’s hearing aids have directional microphones that automatically adjust to different sound environments. For example, they switch on when speech is detected from the front direction.
Binaural Coupling of Hearing Aids
When people need two hearing aids, today’s technology couples them together using wireless processing. The hearing aids recognize sounds coming from all directions and adjust both aids accordingly. For example, the hearing aids will recognise which side speech is coming in on, and amplify it only on that one aid. Wind noise that only occurs in one ear is filtered by coupling the aids together and detecting the wind direction. Loudness can be adjusted in one or both aids.
Wireless Technology Gives Control and Freedom
2.4GHz technology is being used to connect hearing aids to Bluetooth-enabled devices like smartphones, tablets and televisions to make conversations, listening to music and watching TV even more enjoyable. In particular, phone calls have traditionally been a big problem for hearing aid users because the microphones are not stable and the calls are not clear, but then Bluetooth arrived on the scene to remedy that problem.
Accessories for Hearing Aids
Hearing aid manufacturers also provide other equipment that accompanies the hearing aids. For example, remote controls to adjust volume, streaming devices for television dn remote microphones for conferences and classrooms..
Future Developments in Hearing Aid Technology
So what does the future hold? Great innovations are likely to continue over the next decade and beyond. These innovations will be driven by further advances in wireless technology and digital chips, as well as advances in hearing and cognitive research.
Diagnosing and Prescribing for Hearing Technology Solutions
Hearing aids alone may not necessarily solve all your communication difficulties. Regardless of the high-tech options available, the most important factor is a proper diagnosis and rehabilitation strategies conducted by a trained independent audiologist. Once we know your specific hearing needs, we will recommend an appropriate solution. We’re brand agnostic, so to speak—our goal is to find the best solution for your hearing condition. This may include fitting you with the best hearing device that suits your needs and/or prescribing appropriate training and strategies to improve your condition. Our audiologists will advise you on the best solutions—which may be one of these cool high-tech options!
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- Edwards B. The Future of Hearing Aid Technology. Trends Amplif. 2007 Mar; 11(1): 31–45.