Emerging Technology in Hearing Aids
Do you think of hearing aids as the new “cool” thing? Do you wish you had new hearing aids like you wish you had a new stylish spring handbag or a new set of golf clubs? No? With the amazing features in new hearing aid technology, hearing aids are on the precipice of being desired instead of dreaded for anyone with hearing loss. Current innovations are bringing a wealth of features to hearing aids that surpass helping you hear better and venture into creating an easier, fuller lifestyle.
Free yourself with Bluetooth
Wireless connectivity is integrated into our daily lives. We barely think about it. What if you could use all those amazing wireless applications though your hearing aids? With the newest tech, you’ll be surprised at just how much that tiny earpiece can do for you.
Think of all the smart devices you have in your home: appliances, lighting, doorbells, security systems. These can all send a signal to your hearing aids. Better yet is the entertainment application. You can stream music, television and movie sound, smartphones, computers, tablets and more directly into your hearing aids.
One example is the StreamLine Mic from Signia, which allows you to stream phone calls and music using Bluetooth on your smartphone. You may also use it as a remote microphone. Apple has also developed wireless technology that connects certain hearing aids directly with its iOS platform that operates its iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices. Your hearing aids just became AirPods! Google is also in the process of developing hearing aid compatibility for Android devices.
- Hands-free! Bluetooth enables hearing aids to connect to mobile phones, car systems, and other devices that use Bluetooth wireless technology.
- Bluetooth is the industry standard and not unique to any hearing aid or manufacturer, meaning it has uniformity no matter your brand. It works across all devices.
- A personalized listening experience is provided by setting the audio signal to stream to one or both hearing aids. The signal can then be amplified and fit to match the hearing aids’ personalized settings. A practical example: you want to use your hearing aids to listen to music. You can set one hearing aid to stream music and leave the other open to listen to the sounds around you.
- Bluetooth improves the signal to noise ratio to eliminate feedback – the signal bypasses the microphone and directly enters the hearing aid’s processor.
- Bluetooth is secure and does not experience the interference that an FM system does.
- Multiple devices can be paired, meaning you can switch between devices without disconnecting. For example, you can listen to a movie and pause it to take a phone call through your hearing aid.
- Remote control capability for your hearing aids is available, which is very useful if your hearing aids are too small to allow for external controls. You can change the volume or program from the streamer.
Find your voice
Many hearing aid wearers find the sound of their own voice loud and unnatural when heard through their hearing aids. Signia’s Own Voice Processing (OVPTM) technology provides the solution, allowing you to hear your natural sounding voice while retaining the best hearing of all other sounds. OVPTM lets you enjoy the most natural listening experience.
Signia’s new hearing aids have speech quality, enabling you to hear speech clearly in any situation. Advanced noise suppression technologies make it easier to understand and participate in conversations, whether in the quiet of your living room or the noisy chatter and clatter of a busy restaurant.
Think small – no, smaller
Whether worn inside or behind the ear, hearing aids keep getting smaller. There are now models so small they are extremely difficult to detect. Signia’s Silk Nx is one of the smallest hearing aids available and does not require a custom fitting. At 20 percent smaller than its predecessor, it is nearly invisible.
Many of these new tiny marvels are offered in a variety of sizes to avoid the need for impressions or molds of your ears. You can choose a pre-set size with the most comfortable fit.
And smaller size doesn’t mean that you give up any of the other latest hearing aid technology features. You can still change settings remotely via an app or accessory remote, experience better speech quality, and even use over-the-ear headphones.
Enjoy an active lifestyle
Running, hiking, skiing, rock climbing, golfing, boating, fishing, outdoor concerts… Wind noise reduction technology makes a huge difference for avid outdoor enthusiasts. This advanced technology detects the impact of the wind blowing across the hearing aid microphones and blocks or diminishes its amplification. If you happen to live in a windy environment, wind noise reduction tech may be a necessity.
Synchronize – the right ear finally knows what the left is doing
Older hearing aids worked independently from each other. This resulted in a snowball fight of different sounds coming into each ear at the same time. With hearing aid synchrony, the hearing aids work together via a wireless signal to create an overall sound experience like your natural hearing works. Also, if you adjust one hearing aid, the other side is adjusted automatically. The more naturally you hear, the easier it is to forget you’re even wearing hearing aids.
Recharge and relax – your work is done here
No more batteries! Rechargeable hearing aids like Signia’s Pure Charge&Go Nx are available – no more need for those annoying batteries. You pop the hearing aids in a charging pod each night to start charging automatically. Wake up and you’re ready to go. Some chargers dry your hearing aids as well.
The hearing aids are powered by a lithium-ion cell that allows for a full day of wear (16 hours, on average). One type even lasts up to 30 hours, even while streaming. There are also silver-zinc rechargeable hearing aids.
This option offers great ease of use, as you no longer have to replace batteries every few days or worry your batteries will run out and you don’t have replacements with you. You don’t have to fiddle with impossibly small packaging, open that miniature battery compartment or install an even more miniscule battery. As a bonus, rechargeable hearing aids are also a green option, as you won’t be throwing away hundreds of disposable batteries over the years.
Do your biometrics
Biometrics sound like a kind of aerobic exercise, but it’s actually a much shorter way to indicate the measurement and analysis of your personal physical or behavioral characteristics. Hearing aids are now being outfitted with biometric sensors that track your health data, such as heart rate, energy expenditure and a host of endless future possibilities. If you have heart disease or diabetes, your hearing aids will eventually be able to help monitor these conditions, all while hearing better. This information helps your audiologist and your doctor provide better, more individualized care.
All about those apps
There is a dizzying array of apps available for both iPhone and Android platforms. Here are just some app features:
- Hearing test app to test your hearing
- See the status of your hearing aids on your smartphones screen
- Stream sound from audio sources
- Change hearing aid settings and personalize your hearing aids
- Listening exercises
- Connect to a hearing care professional
- Tinnitus management
- Decibel sensors
- Control of your television
Keep checking with your audiologist
Hearing aid tech advances are rapidly becoming widespread. As this advancement continues to occur, costs of high-tech hearing aids will decrease. Talk with your hearing care professional about what is available and fits your lifestyle, and keep checking back. The features you only dreamed about may be right around the corner. Better yet, they may be available today.