Due to recent advancements in technology, hearing aids have come a long way. With more choices than ever before, it’s a lot easier to find hearing aid solutions that meet your needs. No matter your type of hearing loss and lifestyle, you can find your ideal devices.
Hearing aid manufacturers continue to release new innovative products, making this an exciting time to search for hearing aids. As modern technology continues to advance, the current and future of hearing aids is promising.
Here’s what you can expect from the latest hearing aid technology and some tips on how to determine which features you need.
Wireless connectivity is a major development in hearing aid technology. Previously, hearing aids worked independently of one another. But with the latest hearing aid technology, they can now communicate with each other, allowing you to hear more naturally in any environment.
After all, we were born with two ears for a reason. Binaural hearing (hearing with both ears) helps us localize sound sources and better understand speech.
Wireless connectivity also allows you to connect your hearing aids to your personal devices including your phone, TV, or MP3 player to ensure you hear your best in all situations.
Digital Signal Processing (DSP)
Rather than using analog technology, modern hearing aids use digital signal processing to convert sound waves into digital signals. A computer chip in the hearing aid analyzes incoming sounds at regular intervals—the more frequently it does so per second, the more accurate the signals will be. The number of times a hearing aid analyzes sound per second is called the sampling rate.
With DSP, the sound the hearing aid transmits matches your specific pattern of hearing loss. As your listening environment changes, your hearing aids will automatically adjust the settings to provide a clear signal and emphasize the most important sounds.
Directional microphones aren’t new—they were first used in the 1970s. But the digital hearing aids introduced more recently provide greater benefits.
The first hearing aids with directionality forced users to manually switch settings. Thirty percent of users, however, didn’t know when to switch or they didn’t take the time to manually switch settings in their everyday lives.
Today’s automatic directional microphones make your life a lot easier. Most modern hearing aids have different forms of directional performance, including:
Omnidirectional microphone: Picks up sound equally from all directions.
Directional microphone: Focuses on sound coming from in front of the user.
Hearing aids with both omnidirectional and directional microphones allow for switching between the two types depending on your listening environment. This allows for improved hearing in noisy environments and better speech processing.
For example, a directional microphone is ideal to hear the person you’re speaking to in a noisy restaurant. But an omnidirectional microphone works better in quiet environments.
Thanks to the latest hearing aid technology, you can now connect your hearing aids directly to your smartphone. More and more hearing aid manufacturers are developing smartphones apps that can be connected to your hearing aids. The Widex Beyond, for example, is a made-for-iPhone hearing aid that integrates with any device running Apple’s iOS.
Through a customizable app, you gain remote control of your devices. You can use your hearing aids as headphones to make calls, listen to videos and music, and quickly adjust sound programs and settings.
Self-Adjusting and Sound Diary
Adjusting your hearing aid settings on a regular basis can be a hassle. With new self-adjusting technology, however, your hearing aids automatically adjust. They can also keep track of any adjustments you do make along with the various settings you frequent. This helps your audiologist continue to fine tune the settings so they are customized for you.
Improved Comfort and Appearance
A major concern for people with hearing loss is how visible their hearing aids will be to others. In fact, 48 percent of people with hearing loss say the stigma prevents them from wearing hearing aids, according to a study published in The Hearing Journal.
Fortunately, due to the latest hearing aid technology, modern devices are much more comfortable and discreet than traditional types. Hearing aids can now closely match the shape of your ear so you barely feel them. While the size of your hearing aid will still depend on what features they include and your degree of hearing loss, today’s hearing aids are much smaller and less noticeable.
For example, invisible-in-canal (IIC), receiver-in-the-canal (RIC), and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids are the smallest types available. They’re designed to fit so that they can’t be seen. An audiologist can determine whether you’re a good candidate for this technology.
More Durable Design
In a Siemens Hearing Instruments survey, 78 percent of hearing aid wearers said durability was the most important feature. While a discreet appearance is important, hearing aids first and foremost need to be reliable. Wearers want hearing aids that are as technologically advanced on the inside as they are on the outside.
Fortunately, hearing aids today are more durable than ever. They’re resistant to water, sweat, dust, and dirt so you don’t need to worry about damaging them, no matter your lifestyle. All ReSound and Widex hearing aids, for example, have nanotech that protects the entire device with a water- and dust-repellent coating.
Still, it’s important to keep in mind that all hearing aids require some level of maintenance. An audiologist can show you how to best clean, maintain, and protect your hearing aids.
What Features Do You Need?
When it comes to choosing hearing aids, you have more choices than ever before. Trying to determine which hearing aids are right for you can be overwhelming.
To identify which features best suit your needs, ask yourself the following questions:
- How busy is your lifestyle?
- How active are you throughout the day?
- Do you prefer your hearing aid to be well-hidden?
- When do you find yourself struggling to hear effectively?
- What’s your budget for improved hearing?
- What’s your biggest concern regarding hearing aids?
Book an appointment with a doctoral-level audiologist to discuss your specific needs and goals. They can answer all your questions and help you understand which hearing aid features best fit your needs, budget, and lifestyle.