We know that people experience hearing loss differently and often with varying challenges depending on the environment. Chatting with a spouse in a quiet room may be quite different than following a conversation amid the background chatter of a busy office environment, for example.
We also know that regardless of your personal experience, simply making things louder doesn’t work.
That’s why it’s essential to find a unique-to-you solution by consulting a trained hearing professional.
The case for artificial intelligence
As more people experience hearing loss, significant research has explored the best way to solve these unique challenges.
In particular, major advancements have emerged in the area of artificial intelligence, or AI, which uses large amounts of data to recognize patterns, navigate various scenarios, and then create solutions.
AI is already at work in many parts of our life, often without us even realizing it – to recognize speech for video closed captioning, for example, or in your virtual assistants, like Apple’s Siri and Google’s Alexa.
When working with those experiencing hearing loss, some audiologists have also started using the technology when fitting hearing aids.
Early on, hearing aid technology involved creating pre-set models for different environments, with different, pre-determined frequency settings for various situations, such as a restaurant or watching a movie at home.
Today, AI is more sophisticated as it supports those with hearing loss.
By playing different sounds while using software with AI functions, audiologists can more precisely tune the hearing aid to their patient’s needs.
And, as the AI improves, so too can the sophistication of the hearing aids, both in the ability to hear more clearly in different settings, and doing it with a much smaller aid than in years past.
As they listen to the environment surrounding the wearer, AI-informed hearing aids automatically adjust as necessary,actively lowering background noise to make voices louder and more distinct.
Where is this technology going? By scanning the sounds in an environment, identifying the elements of different sounds and understanding how to process each element, AI technology will work toward creating a balanced, personalized experience, and closely replicate how the brain hears sounds when hearing loss isn’t a factor.
In addition, by listening to the voices you hear often, AI could emphasize voices from certain individuals while reducing others.
More advanced AI could tackle some of the most challenging situations, such as focusing on conversations between multiple people in a noisy environment. Eventually, it could even prioritize the voice of interest – as conversation shifts between speakers, AI could track the neural activity of the brain to determine which voice to focus on at a given moment.
Augmented reality (AR) glasses are another future possibility – in this scenario, a pair of glasses outfitted with eye-tracking technology, could guide the hearing aid AI on where to focus. At the same time, the glasses could provide automated captions to supplement speech in case the wearer still has trouble hearing.
The future is bright in AI’s ability to help with hearing loss, and while much work remains, we’re already enjoying significant improvements. Advanced hearing aids are already able to suppress unwanted noise, allowing you to focus on voices. All it takes is a visit to a trained practitioner, such as the professionals at NexGen Hearing, to get a hearing aid expertly adjusted to your unique hearing needs.