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Posted on Tuesday, April 29, 2014

2014 Hearing Aids Better Than Just A Few Years Ago

Pictured: Phonak's water resistant hearing aids

In the past, hearing technologies were mocked for their clunky appearance and limited functions, but that all changed with advances in technology and greater understanding on how hearing works. Today's 2014 hearing technology has improved so greatly that it leaves even the technology of a few years ago in the dust.

2014 marks a change in hearing aid technology. Not only does the hearing aid itself have advanced features and unique user friendly technology, but hearing aids now interact freely with all sorts of important technology. By wirelessly connecting with technologies like tablets and smart phones hearing aids have expanded their features and their usefulness.

New Insights into How Hearing Works—Just a few years ago, in 2009, scientist remained unaware of some key features of hearing. For example, it had long been thought that the ion channels in the ears, responsible for hearing, were located in a different place. Insights like these on how hearing works has led to amazing advancements in hearing technology. As Robert Jackler, MD, Professor in Otorhinolaryngology at Stanford was quoted as saying in an article on Science Daily, "When you understand the nuts and bolts of how the hair cell works, you can understand how it goes wrong and can set about learning how to fix it."

Other new insight into hearing comes from unique institutions studying how to improve hearing in background noise. The saying, “It’s so quiet you can hear a pin drop” is a real goal for the scientist at the anechoic chamber at Binghampton University. There, the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences works to develop technology that will allow people to hear in background noise. To do this they designed a chamber that is not only sound proof, but a chamber in which sound waves aren’t reflected off any of the surfaces. According to Science Daily, “That makes it a perfect environment in which to test how sound radiates from its source and moves around objects or bodies.”

New Insights into Technology—New insights into hearing technology has strengthened and improved hearing aids, and remarkably so too has technology outside the industry. The ability to use a tablet or a smart phone to adjust hearing aids or even to focus them by having your phone become an assistive listening device has improved the lives of people with hearing loss and added to the usefulness of hearing technologies. Rolled out in January, ReSound LiNX is the latest offering in high end hearing aids making a splash with advanced features. LiNX integrates the exciting offerings of technology applications like Facetime, wireless streaming apps, and more with their amazing sound quality. In addition, there are many apps that increase hearing aid features by helping with tinnitus and providing closed captioning.

Better Algorithms—Using specialized and highly sophisticated computer software manufacturers have created a way to optimally fit hearing aids to make them not only find your ideal comfort level, but to take all of these technologies and adjust them to your specific hearing functions and needs. According to an article on Gizmag researchers have, "....developed a noise-filtering algorithm that's been shown to improve test subjects' recognition of spoken words by up to 90 percent." Improvements like these have lead the way in creating hearing technology that is not only comfortable but works optimally.

Smart Hearing Aids—Today’s hearing aids are able to understand and adapt to a user’s preference. This type of automation is considered unique in technology and has led to what many in the industry term, “personally tailored sound.” Information storage systems are what allow hearing aids to learn a wearer’s preferences, recording them and adjusting automatically when it detects similar noise situations.

Useful Features—Though in the past some hearing aid features might not have been as useful as others, through trial and error, hearing aid manufacturers have learned which features have had the greatest benefits for their users. This includes resistance to dust, elimination of feedback or whistling before it beings, water resistance, and greater discretion. In fact, BTE and RITE hearing aid tubes can now be dyed to match skin type. Making these already discreet technologies nearly invisible.
Dyed Hearing Aid TubesDyed Hearing Aid Tubes

To find out more about these kinds of technology visit your hearing health professionals. If you need help finding a professional in your area, click HERE!

Resources:

Stanford University Medical Center. "How Human Ear Translates Vibrations Into Sounds: Discovery Of Ion Channel Turns Ear On Its Head." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090423132955.htm (accessed April 28, 2014).

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090423132955.htm

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