December 6, 2022

Artificial Intelligence in Hearing Aids

One of the most significant upgrades to hearing aid technology today is the use of artificial intelligence. AI is a diverse tool that is helping many businesses, doctors, and educators to do more with better access to data and insights. Artificial intelligence in hearing aids is a fascinating tool, and for those who are looking for a more effective way to get better performance out of their hearing aids, this could be the ideal upgrade.

One of the most significant upgrades to hearing aid technology today is the use of artificial intelligence. AI is a diverse tool that is helping many businesses, doctors, and educators to do more with better access to data and insights. Artificial intelligence in hearing aids is a fascinating tool, and for those who are looking for a more effective way to get better performance out of their hearing aids, this could be the ideal upgrade.

Hearing aids have seen a lot of updates and modernizations in recent years. Many of those advancements are in automatic features like artificial intelligence. AI, along with other tools like machine learning and activity sensors, aim to improve a person's overall experience with their device. How does it work? What should you know about the use of these devices?

What Does Hearing Aids with Artificial Intelligence Do?

AI technology is being used in various ways. In some situations, it is working to allow hearing aids to learn more about a person’s individual needs and preferences. For example, if you are visiting a restaurant and sitting at a table with a group of people, you likely want to hear the people talking to you and with you. You do not want to hear the dishes clanging or the sounds of other people nearby.

Over time, some hearing aids with artificial intelligence are learning to adapt to what your preferences are. In a situation like this, the hearing aid recognizes the voices of the people around you as being the target sound you want to hear. It then works to filter out the other sound and amplifies the voices. That gives you more ability to hear properly and enhances the quality of the experience you have. By reducing background noise and improving speech clarity, you get more out of the hearing as a result.

Technologies employed in AI Hearing Aids

Machine learning: This artificial intelligence uses algorithms to sort through audio and make decisions or predictions.

Deep neural networks: This technology learns your brain’s habits as it encounters auditory input and responds without explicit programming.

Consider a Few Examples

Artificial intelligence in hearing aids is changing rapidly. There are many ways companies are using it to create impressive and clear sound. Take into consideration a few of the ways that it can work in this manner.

  • Your hearing aid learns about the people that you speak to often. It is able to recognize, over time, the voices that you want to hear most often. That could be your child, spouse, or coworker. When those sounds are picked up, the hearing aid recognizes them and prioritizes those sounds. That means when you go to that business lunch appointment, you are better able to hear the person you are with.
  • The hearing aid picks up on your TV shows. Perhaps there is a show you watch every day. It is a priority for you. Over time, the hearing aid begins to recognize that. As a result, when that show comes on the TV each night, it adjusts and tunes in to that sound. That way, you are able to focus on those sounds specifically. It allows for the focus on the TV rather than the rest of the sounds in your space.
  • You are going to a doctor’s appointment. Everyone in the building is wearing a mask. That makes it much more difficult for you to be able to hear them. The AI hearing aid learns to recognize that you want to hear the person speaking even if they sound muffled. In real time, it can prioritize the voice of that person, giving you better clarity in that environment.

Artificial intelligence is working to do more with hearing aids, turning them from being a simple device into a tool that learns and adjusts to improve your hearing ability and overall quality of life.

How Does an AI Hearing Aid Do This?

The use of artificial intelligence is growing in the field. The more ways that manufacturers are able to implement it, the more opportunities there are for you to see improved sound quality.

As noted, one of the most prominent benefits is for the device to hear speech that is important to you while helping to filter out or suppress the unwanted noise in that space. Another opportunity comes in being able to improve speech sounds. That is going to help people who are unable to hear a person’s voice well because of a mask, for example.

Also notable, some devices can help to improve the way a person interacts and talks on the phone. When you pick up the phone to talk to someone, you want to zero in on those sounds, not the sounds around you. AI allows for this. It helps to stream the clear phone sounds to you. It can even do this with music, allowing you to have a clear, crisp sound coming through your device, much like it is supposed to be heard.

Going Beyond the AI Tech

A few artificial intelligence hearing aids are incorporating even more into the way they work. For example, some have a built in activity tracker. That is a way for the device to track your activity over the course of the day. How many steps did you take? Did you lay in bed all day? Activity tracking is important for overall physical and mental wellness. If you notice that you are not getting a lot of steps in each day, it could help boost your modification to get back out there to keep working on your health.

That type of tracking is done directly through your smartphone. That way, you are able to track what you are doing over the course of a few days or longer. You may also wish to provide access to that app to your loved ones. That way, they can see what you are doing, and if there is a reason for concern, they can respond right away.

Some also have built in features like fall detection. In that case, if a person falls, the device recognizes this unique movement and sends an alert to medical care or may alert a loved one directly. Others are able to track how much you are engaging with the world around you. Are you spending time outdoors or just watching TV each day? Some also track social engagement. This information is then shared with just the people that you are most interested in sharing it with on an ongoing basis.

Advantages of AI Hearing Aids

It could seem like the investment in AI like this is not worth it. After all, your current hearing aids may seem just fine for your needs. Yet, when you consider the numerous ways that this could benefit you, it may be well worth making it a priority to upgrade. Consider a few of the benefits that these hearing aids can offer.

  • Avoid the frustration of not being able to hear. In a crowded room, do you choose not to engage with others because you are concerned with being unable to hear? Do you hate to have to ask people to repeat themselves? With this device, you are less likely to have to do that. A study conducted by the Ohio State University revealed people with hearing loss only understood 29% of conversation in the presence of background noise when they didn’t use artificially intelligent hearing aids. That number jumped to 84% when AI hearing aids were used.
  • Experience better sound control. In noisy situations, you do not have to sit out and not be a part of the conversation. Rather, you can fully engage with others. You can play the game of cards in the club without worry. You can tell the story and listen to your friends talk. You can participate in the business meeting with confidence.
  • It improves your quality of life. Even if you just want to be able to hear the TV program that you love to watch or you want to tune out the noise around you after a long day, you can do that with the help of these devices.
  • Track your health. Our ears are considered an extremely accurate place to take vitals such as blood pressure. Some of the most advanced hearing technology track activity levels, monitor falls and send alerts for assistance.
  • Reduced cognitive load.  If you have hearing loss, your brain works overtime to interpret sounds on a limited amount of auditory input. You don’t hear all the sounds you used to, so your brain expends more energy trying to make up for the loss. AI hearing aids think like your brain and ease the workload by interpreting and clarifying sounds before they reach your auditory cortex, so your brain doesn’t have to work as hard.

AI Hearing Aids on the Market

Hearing aid manufacturers are using AI in a number of different ways. Some are using data from other users and machine learning to improve their algorithms. Others are using it to help a patient track their overall health and well-being. Here are some of the models currently using this technology in their hearing aids.

Oticon More: This hearing aid has an onboard deep neural network that includes more than 12 million sounds. It also crowdsources sounds from other users to include a wider variety of audio recognition.

Starkey Livio AI: In addition to its advanced AI sound interpretation, the Livio AI comes with programs to monitor fitness, falls and signs of dementia. It also comes with a digital personal assistant application to provide you with reminders.

Phonak Audeo Paradise This hearing device uses AutoSense OS 4.0, an artificial intelligence algorithm, to provide you with exceptional sound quality and better speech understanding.

Widex Moment: This hearing aid model boasts a natural sound experience thanks to its PureSound technology. There’s no audio lag, so you won’t feel out of sync with your listening environment.

ReSound ONE: The individualized programming of the ReSound ONE is complemented by the additional microphone that’s placed in your ear canal. This device uses Activate Ultra Focus to improve mic directionality and speech understanding.

Take a few minutes to consider how hearing aids with AI could improve your quality of life. Most AI hearing aids require an audiologist, so come to Audiology & Hearing Services of Charlotte, and we’ll work with you to determine if AI technology will benefit you.

Written by
Reviewed by
Dr. Melissa Karp, Au.D.
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Melissa Karp is a board-certified audiologist with special expertise in tinnitus treatment, auditory processing disorder (APD) evaluation, hearing aid fitting and aural rehabilitation.