I’ve been researching hearing aids lately. No, not for me. Even my years of attending loud rock concerts haven’t put a dent in my hearing. At least not yet. But for my grandparents, it’s a different story. So I started doing a little searching and reading online, to help them select a suitable option. Here’s a summary of what I found…
Better hearing aid technology has recently made it possible to provide better hearing solutions. While some people with damaged hearing persist in using exceedingly efficient analog technology, new advances in electronic engineering have allowed the development of digital hearing aids that are even more efficient, and perhaps just as importantly, smaller than ever. Though even the most powerful analog hearing aids remain something of a specialty product, they are still manufactured to a degree and are still not yet an obsolete technology, particularly since some people with severe hearing loss genuinely do not appreciate the quality of sound in digital hearing aids.
Digital hearing aids, however, are only getting smaller, much like smartphones and computers, as well as any other digital device that relies on modern electronic controls and software programming. While these devices generally offer a superior sound quality at a smaller size, they also require a number of tests be run first in order to properly program and fine-tune the functions of a digital hearing aid for the individual ear. Part of the appeal of these state of the art devices is, of course, their ability to be modified to specific ears and hearing problems, though this can and will take a great deal of time and effort to go through the process by which the customization is done.
Recent advances in hearing aid technology have also allowed users to deal with the problem of background noise. For some decades, a significant amount of background noise rendered hearing aids virtually worthless and could sometimes even be problematic with a slight degree of background noise. However, new technologies have enabled background noise to be less of a problem, and newer hearing aids can be adjusted to adapt to the specific level of background noise the hearing aid’s user finds themselves in. Whether it’s an area with the kind of background noise even people with perfect hearing have a hard time handling or an area with next to no background, modern hearing aids can handle them all and everything in between, sometimes even via a remote control function, another beneficial element of modern digital technology.
Directional microphone advances have also proven to be a boon for hearing aid technologies. Once a hearing aid could only be set to an omnidirectional mode, forcing the device to pick up sounds from every angle possible, usually meaning that background noise was picked up as readily as what the user really wanted to hear. Directional microphones currently enable users to tighten up the direction the microphone in their hearing aids pick up. In a nutshell, this means that the user need only adjust their hearing aid, turn their ear towards what they want to hear and then it will be picked up with less background noise than ever before.
These are, of course, only a bare minimum of the possible options for these devices, and more innovations are definitely on the way in this field of medical technology.