Emily Martinson, AuD, PhD
Whether you are new to hearing aids or have worn hearing aids since you were a child, it is important to stay up-to-date on new technology that can help you to hear your best. Today we will be discussing the biggest updates (so far) this year, and going in depth on what these updates mean to you, the hearing aid user.
As a reminder, make sure to talk with your audiologist or hearing care provider about any questions you may have about your hearing. Everyone’s hearing needs are a little bit different, and they will be able to give you insight into what will work best for you.
One of the biggest changes in the hearing aid world is the introduction of special features, which many manufacturers have called “Hearables.” Hearables are hearing devices with additional functionality beyond treating hearing loss, or a full auditory solution. One example of a hearing aid that falls into this category is the NuEar Circa AI or Starkey Livio AI, which has the ability to track steps and do language translation. This technology enhances the hearing aid user’s experience, and provides extra features previously unavailable on hearing aids.
Another big advancement in hearing aid technology this year has been improvements in the ability of the hearing aid to reduce background noise. Many hearing aid users report difficulty with hearing in the presence of noise, such as in busy restaurants, family gatherings, and with friends. As discriminating speech from noise is a very common complaint, hearing aid researchers have focused much of their resources on improving the listener’s ability to distinguish speech in noise and ultimately participate more fully in group conversations.
One really cool advancement within the past few years has been the focus on accessories beyond just the hearing aid. Accessories are separate devices that enhance the hearing aid’s functionality. For example, if you were struggling to hear the television (and your whole family told you that it was too loud!) an accessory that could be a big help for you might be a television streamer. This device connects to the television and delivers the sound directly to your hearing aids, while still allowing your friends and family to hear through the regular speakers.
Hearing aids have had Bluetooth streaming capabilities for several years now, but that technology continues to evolve and adapt. Whether it is Bluetooth to your iPhone or an accessory, the technology continues to improve.
You may be wondering, what does the future hold for hearing aid technology? If I had a crystal ball, I’d predict that research will continue to focus on speech recognition in noise, additional uses of Hearable technology, and making hearing aids as discreet as possible. Only time will tell!