Hearing aids are smarter than they’ve ever been. As we continue inexorably along the path towards a digital, connected future, hearing assistance technology is intersecting with — and being influenced by — the Internet of Things (IoT). And that’s causing the technology to evolve in some incredibly fascinating ways
Typically, getting used to a new hearing aid can be a difficult, involved process. You’re looking at an adjustment period of at least a few months, likely with multiple visits to your audiologist for fine-tuning. IoT likely won’t remove the adjustment period altogether, but it does have the potential to make things a lot easier on you.
For one, your audiologist can, with your consent, gain access to comprehensive diagnostic information. These might include your level of physical activity, how often you engage in conversation, and in some cases, even details such as your temperature and heart rate. This can help your audiologist make more effective recommendations and give you a better window into both your hearing health and general health.
There’s also the fact that an Internet-connected hearing aid could feasibly be remotely adjusted and tuned by your audiologist. In other words, in the future, you may no longer need to pay such frequent visits to their office. You can simply call them on the phone or send them a meeting request on Zoom, and go from there.
Who Needs Headphones?
Speaking of Zoom, one of the biggest challenges hearing-impaired individuals have faced throughout the coronavirus pandemic involves digital meetings. Finding a headset that’s both comfortable and doesn’t interfere with one’s hearing assistance devices can be challenging, to say the least. And this is another problem that IoT will toss out the window.
Even now, hearing assistance devices are being tweaked and tuned to connect to everything from smartphones to desktop computers to smart devices. This goes beyond simply allowing you to connect to a Zoom call with only your hearing aid. To give just a few examples:
- Alerts, such as from a digital assistant or home security system, could be sent directly to your hearing assistance device.
- Your hearing aid could be connected to a sound system or TV to make it easier to hear without interfering with anyone else’s listening experience.
- By leveraging cloud functionality, your hearing aid can access advanced language processing and sound processing for noisy environments.
No More Language Barriers
Last but certainly not least, imagine a world where language barriers no longer exist. Where everyone can speak in their first language and be understood even by people who don’t know the language. Hearing assistance devices may play a part in making such a future possible.
We already mentioned advanced language and sound processing in the previous entry. This is a natural ‘next step’ from that. By tapping into cloud-based translation software, advanced hearing aids might be able to automatically translate every word and phrase you hear into a language of your choice.
Of course, that’s something for the somewhat distant future. Translation software, at the time of writing, currently leaves a lot to be desired. Once we get past that boundary, though?
Say goodbye to language barriers.
An Ear Towards the Future
We stand at the edge of some downright incredible technological advancements. Hearing aids are smarter than they’ve ever been, and they’re nowhere near finished evolving. Thanks to the Internet of Things, we all may soon be hearing in ways we never even dreamed possible.
About the Author:
Pauline Dinnauer is the VP of Audiological Care at Connect Hearing, which provides industry-leading hearing loss, hearing testing, and hearing aid consultation across the US.