What are the New hearing aid technology ?
Hearing aid technology has improved a lot in the last few decades, but at their core, hearing aids are always made up of four basic parts: a microphone, a processor, a receiver, and a power source. The microphone picks up the sound in your environment and passes it to the processor. The processor amplifies the signal and distributes it to the receiver which gives the amplified signal to the ear canal. The power source, or battery, drives the system.
Hearing aid technology can be considered either advanced or basic, depending on the sophistication of the processor. Even further, basic digital hearing aids provide far more benefits than the best hearing aids of previous generations.
New and the advanced hearing aid technology
As the level of technology increases, digital hearing aids become more automatic and have more features to help you communicate in difficult listening situations. New technologies translate to higher price points for hearing aids and greater benefits. The following features are more likely to be offered in advanced hearing aids.
1. Top-of-the-line sound processing and frequency response
All hearing aids process sound, which means that when sound arrives into the hearing aid, it has to be sectioned into chunks of sound (sometimes referred to as “channels”) and digitized before it can be amplified. The better the hearing aid, the more flexibility it has to “chunk” sounds customized to your unique hearing loss prescription. For example, if you have only high-frequency hearing loss, a better-made hearing aid can amplify only those sounds, whereas a lower-end model might amplify mid- and high-frequency sounds. This customization of the hearing aid is called its frequency response.
2. Bluetooth compatibility
Bluetooth compatibility is a wireless feature that enables hearing aids to connect to mobile phones and other devices that use Bluetooth, often through an intermediary device. Bluetooth technology has the potential to improve the signal-to-noise ratio and eliminate feedback from the microphone as the signal bypasses the microphone and enters the hearing aid’s processor directly.A Bluetooth connection is also less likely to experience interference, which can occur with an FM system (see below under basic features).
3. Artificial intelligence
Some hearing aids have a feature that allows them to “learn” your preferences, a type of AI or artificial intelligence. By logging the volume control settings and program preferences for some sound environments, hearing aids can automatically initiate these changes when the environment is detected. Over time, this reduces your need to make manual adjustments.
Many of today’s advanced hearing aids come with smartphone apps, allowing the user to make adjustments, contact their hearing care provider, and monitor battery life. Most importantly, some of them work like assistive listening devices, by routing phone calls or other sources of sounds directly to a user’s hearing aids. Some also can convert speech into text, and translate different languages.
5. Rechargeable batteries
Increasingly, hearing aids come with rechargeable batteries, allowing a person to stop swapping out tiny button batteries every few days or weeks. It’s anticipated that these will be widely available with most hearing aid models in the next few years.
6. Tinnitus masking features
The most sophisticated hearing aids come with tinnitus masking features. An audiologist or other hearing care provider can program them to emit sounds that mask the tinnitus or ringing in your ears. (But for many people with tinnitus, simply amplifying the sounds you’ve been missing with a hearing aid can help minimize tinnitus, which often develops when a person experiences age-related hearing loss.)
7. Binaural processing
This feature is often (but not always) available on basic hearing aids, too. Binaural processing means a pair of hearing aids communicate wireless with each other. It is most commonly used to keep the hearing aids operating synchronously (such as switching from program 1 to 2 at the same time) or to stream auditory signals from one hearing aid to the other.
Better sound quality with wireless hearing aids
Wireless technology allows two hearing aids to operate simultaneously as a complete system, rather than acting as two independent devices. The sound input of both hearing aids is shared and decisions about digital sound processing are based on combined information.
For example, If a hearing aid is being triggered for directional mode, both hearing aids will switch to that mode at the same time. The data transfer rate for wireless hearing aid is measured in nanoseconds, which is much faster than in the human brain. For the wearer, the adjustment is considered in real time. Also the sound processing is synchronized between the two hearing aids, thus improving the sound quality for the wearer.