Hearing Aid Technology

Technology makes the world go round, and hearing aids are no exception.  Gone are the ear horns and giant body aids of yesteryear, for they have been replaced with sleek, small, amazingly advanced digital instruments.

Technology has made it possible to fit many features and advanced settings into very small, nearly invisible instruments, not to mention the vast improvements made to sound quality over the years.  With the advent of the digital aids, hearing aids are flexible, easily adjustable for both the wearer and the hearing healthcare professional, and the result is monumental: improved hearing for millions of people around the world.
Science and technology have made it possible for researchers to understand more how the ears and the brain work together to process sound and have responded with a number of advances.  Hearing aids now are digital (more on the specifics of Analog vs Digital in a future blog), which means that a computer chip takes incoming sound and converts it into a digital code.  Your audiogram will already be in the computer and when we hook up the hearing aids, the sound is adjusted and analyzed based on the test results/audiogram.  Then, the sound coming out of the hearing aids is converted back into sound waves into a sound signal that is specifically tuned for your hearing loss.
Along with the digitized signal, many hearing aids have directional microphones, which are instrumental in helping to reduce background noise…it is important to mention that in order for directional microphones to be on a hearing aid, there has to be enough space for the manufacturer to accommodate TWO microphone ports and they are not available on certain styles of instruments, like CICs.  The front mic picks up speech while the rear mic listens for background noise and reduces it.
Bluetooth is currently the most “popular” technological advance in hearing aids, and Bluetooth has completely changed the way that hearing aid users are able to stay connected.  It allows the wearer to wirelessly connect to multiple devices, like cell phones, televisions, MP3 players, and more.
While these are just a few of the advances in technology, more are inevitable.   Technology has completely changed the face of hearing aid wearing from giant, unsightly, unsophisticated models to something much more advanced, sleek, and capable.  Although they are still far from perfect and not the same as your natural hearing, the advances in hearing aid technology have come a long way and more changes are sure to come.

 

Until next time,

 

Dr. Kristin

Mike