The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has marked today, May 16th, as the International Day of Light: a day in which to celebrate the wonders of science, culture, art, education and sustainable development across fields such as medicine, communications and energy.
At Hear4U, we’re forever grateful for the advancements made by science and technology. Indeed, they are integral to the work we do, and their achievements play a vital role not only in our lives, but also those of our customers and clients.
To commemorate the occasion, we thought we’d go through some of the major breakthroughs of the past decade and pick some others that are just on the horizon. So, here are our top picks for the best new hearing aid features of the last ten years!
The Best New Hearing Aid Features…
Bluetooth has revolutionized wireless technology. It has made connectivity between devices better than ever before, and for hearing aid users this has meant the opportunity to take advantage of a whole host of life-enhancing equipment. This includes the ability to interface with smartphones, speakers, TV streamers and much more besides. In terms of pure functionality, this has made hearing aids transform into true multimedia devices, rather than the one-dimensional devices that they were in decades long since passed.
In the past few years, artificial intelligence has come on in leaps and bounds – and shows no signs of slowing down. In the world of hearing aids, it has found some interesting applications. Chief among them is the kind of noise environment modelling that certain modern hearing aid models boast. With this feature, a form of data logging records the area surrounding the wearer of the hearing aids and then adjusts settings accordingly. Over time, it learns to recognize each environment so that wearers experience seamless transitions from one place to the next. As a result, it means that newer devices are more natural sounding than ever before.
Another useful addition that takes advantage of the kind of data logging that AI makes use of is health monitoring and tracking. Alongside your smartphone, your hearing aids can now track your steps, measure your heart rate and even help you set health-related targets for the future. In many ways, this aspect of hearing aid technology is still in its infancy, but the future for it looks a bright one.
Feedback – that high-pitched whistling sound that results from your microphone picking up and recycling different noises that enter the ear – is one of the more frustrating aspects of wearing hearing aids. Thankfully, the advances of technology have meant that newer hearing aids come with feedback reduction as standard, limiting the annoyance one might experience when using your devices day-to-day.
Although it may sound like a minor thing, having rechargeable lithium-ion batteries in hearing aids has been a complete godsend for many people. It has meant that wearers no longer have to replace batteries every few days or weeks, and that you can not only plug in and forget your hearing aids each night but also that you can save money in the long-term. Although this added option does not yet apply to every type of hearing aid, the trend is becoming more and more widespread with each generation.
…And a Few More for the Future
With the release of the all-new Audeo Life hearing aids from Phonak, the nifty little gadgets have made their first major step into becoming truly waterproof. With other brands no doubt seeking to follow suit, we can expect waterproof/sweatproof hearing aids to become a new standard in the years to come.
Real-time translation through audio devices like headphones is now steadily making its way to hearing aids, and it couldn’t be more exciting: imagine taking a trip across the other side of the world and being able to interact with the inhabitants without even knowing the language. Although this technology is only at the beginning of where it could be, the fact that hearing aids of the future will boast this feature fills us with giddy anticipation.
The past half-century has seen hearing aids – as well as a huge range of other gadgets – become smaller and smaller through a process known as ‘miniaturisation’. Batteries, chips, processors: as they’ve become more powerful, they have, somewhat paradoxically, shrank down in size. Due to this, hearing aids have morphed from the bulky, clumsy-looking things of the past to where they are now; sleek, discreet devices that one can barely notice. This pattern seems destined to continue, and, in the future, we may have hearing aids that are scarcely recognisable as such. Indeed, they may even be as small a single ear stud, or clip on to the inside of the ear canal like a piercing.
As hearing aids have been minimised over time, it’s no secret that they’ve also become easier to lose! However, modern GPS tracking has meant that more and more items have harnessed the power of satellites to secure their position. In the years to come, there’s no reason why this technology can’t be implemented in hearing aids.
Another feature that we can expect to see in the upcoming decade is an even higher standard of communication with other gadgets from hearing aids. Imagine being able to control your car’s functions by speaking to it through your hearing aid’s microphone: such things may be possible sooner than we think.
With all of these features and more on the way, the future looks bright. Personally, we can’t wait to see what the hearing aids of the future will be like, and we’re sure that you feel much the same.
Happy International Day of Light to all of our customers and clients alike!