Hearing aid technology has come a long way in recent years—and it’s a game changer. Significant improvements have been made, particularly due to digital technology coming into the field of amplification. Here are the top advances that have been made in hearing aid technology.
Digital signal processing
The year 1996 was a significant time for hearing aid technology, as it was when digital signal processing was introduced into the algorithms for hearing aid processing. Since this time, digital technological advances and improvements in processing speed have led to a wide variety of new and expanded features that have allowed hearing aids to be more effective and functional than ever before.
Arguably the biggest advancement made in recent years has been the performance of directional microphones in hearing aids, allowing for improved performance in noise and improvements in speech processing. Directional microphones now come in many options controlled digitally. Automatic directional microphones automatically switch between directional and omnidirectional based on environment and programming set by your audiologist.
Wireless communication with hearing aids have progressed in recent years. Hearing aid fitting possibilities—and the way in which users can now connect to external devices—has expanded considerably due to Bluetooth technology and digital magnetic transmission methods.
Hearing aids can becustom programmed, also utilizing wireless technology, and should always be verified.In addition, this same wireless connectivity allows users to connect their hearing aids to many personal devices, including MP3 players, smartphones, computers, and televisions. This has allowed for improved experience with hearing aids, providing users with access to external devices with low and clear interference transmission, while improving speech recognition in noise.
Significant changes have also been made in noise reduction algorithms since the technology’s inception. Rather than filtering out noise through the reduction of low-frequency gain, DSP now allows for more complex algorithms to successfully control unwanted noise. Digital noise reduction improves speech recognition in noisy environments while also improving listening ease in noise.
Similar to smartphones, some hearing aids now have self-learning features. These hearing aids monitor and learn from the users’ behaviors, such as when theywould adjust the volume control. The hearing aids then remember the settings, and automatically adjust themselves in similar hearing situations in the future for improved comfort.
Due to the advancements in wireless technology, many hearing aids are now compatible with accessories that improve understanding and enjoyment of television, telephone, and other devices used in our daily lives.The most common and popular of these devices include TV accessories that transmit the sound from the television to the hearing aids so the user can hear the television in both ears, which improves understanding while also keeping the TV volume at lower levels for other listeners.
More durable design
Digital hearing aids are also more durable. They are resistant to dust, dirt, sweat, and water, allowing for users with more active lifestyles and those who work in more demanding environments to worry less about the damage caused to their hearing aids,while reducing the frequency of repairs due to normal wear and tear.
Due to improvements in hearing aid technology, audiologists can now provide amplification for more patients with hearing loss. Greater flexibility and ease in the fitting process is also now possible. Furthermore, digital noise reduction algorithms and directional microphones have improved speech recognition and listening comfort in noisy environments. And wireless technology in hearing aids has opened connectivity options for users.
To learn more about new hearing aid technology and how it can benefit you, schedule an appointment with Associated Audiologists.