Smart devices are infiltrating Simi Valley homes on a regular basis these days. What started with virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa has grown to include a diverse range of products such as light bulbs, thermostats and doorbells. The technology is even finding its way into hearing aids.
Innovations in Hearing Aid Technology
Once upon a time, hearing aids were large and bulky and limited to analog technology. They still helped Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks residents struggling with hearing loss to communicate more effectively, but they weren’t as reliable and effective as they are today.
Digital processors helped revolutionize the devices, improving sound quality and increasing the number of options while reducing their size and eliminating issues that had plagued users in the past, such as whistling and feedback.
Digital technology helped pave the way for further innovation. The biggest breakthroughs in hearing aid technology over the past decade or so include:
- Audio streaming. Bluetooth® technology has allowed hearing aid users to wirelessly connect with a variety of other electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets and televisions. Audio can be streamed directly to one or both hearing aids and is easily controlled through a smartphone app. You can connect multiple devices, making it a cinch to switch back and forth between listening to music, watching TV or talking on the phone.
- Smart home connectivity. A software platform called IFTTT is the “brains” behind many of today’s smart devices. It allows users to wirelessly sync a variety of internet-enabled devices to automatically control everyday household products. Ask Alexa to turn on the lights and you’ll never fumble around in the dark again! The technology is now being incorporated into hearing aids, enabling you to sync them with other devices and take advantage of the same convenience and automation. You can even sync your hearing aids to a smart coffeemaker and enjoy the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee the moment you turn them on. Be afraid, Starbucks. Be very afraid.
- AI health monitoring. There seems to be no limit to what artificial intelligence can do. Hearing aid manufacturers are taking advantage of the technology by incorporating AI-powered sensors into their devices to help monitor and track their user’s physical and mental health. These work in conjunction with smartphone apps to track things like daily step counts and social engagement to compile an overall wellness score. Active listening (what Alexa does) can be used to help determine when you have suffered an accident, such as a fall, and automatically alert your emergency contacts. Additional features like heart rate monitoring will only expand their usefulness in years to come.
Not all hearing aids offer these features, but an increasing number are moving in that direction. There are sure to be additional technological advances in the future that will provide benefits we can’t even imagine today!