We have seen a vast and significant change in hearing aids in the past few decades. However, our next generation would see a greater number of innovations in listening devices, as they are not only decreasing in size, but are also becoming digitalized. Digitalization is indeed an epoch-making event in the developmental history of technological advancements. New developments are being made each and every moment to meet the growing needs of the people worldwide. Hence, goes the saying, “Necessity is the mother of all inventions.”
Although the Analog hearing aids have been giving good performance, the modern digital hearing aids are 10 times more advanced. With the introduction of Digital Signal Processing (DSP) system into the listening devices in 1996, they have shown a revolutionary change within a much short span of time. This means that a majority of the hearing devices had directional microphones back then, which improved speech quality drastically. In other words, noise reduction feature became extremely popular among digital hearing aids, which is to say that the user can listen to speech clearly even in noisy environments. Similarly, another feature has also gained much popularity among these advanced digital hearing aids, which is the feedback cancellation. This unique feature allowed for more speech and sound clarity in these modern listening devices, as the feedback created from within the machine parts, like annoying whistling sounds, are cancelled out, to provide a clear and distortion-free sound. Other features that companies of digital hearing aids are regularly working on are environment classification and statistical data logging, to make them even better and user-friendly. Also, the ear-to-ear connectivity will be improved soon; that is to say that in cases of binaural hearing loss, hearing aids in each ear will be interconnected and encrypted with the other to work together so as to perform better and to give better output.
Although digital hearing aids were not so advanced in those days, today they have undergone such radical modifications that they even have the capability to wipe out the previously used Analog devices altogether. Studies show that 5-10 years down the line, digital hearing aids will make extravagant innovations in the fields of wireless technology, digital chip technology, hearing science and cognitive science. Apart from these, the innovations of advanced and hassle-free connectivity and customization will also come in much more developed ways in these digital hearing aids. Speech recognition and other Artificial Intelligence features will undergo revolutionary transformations and will gain the maximum accuracy. Learning abilities in hearing impaired children will also become much more faster and no children would ever feel falling backwards from other batchmates.
An excellent innovation in listening devices is being researched and studied currently by scientists and engineers across the world. It is called Solar Ear or solar powered hearing aids, in which the batteries of listening devices can be rechargeable with solar energy. In this way the third world countries can cuttle down on the cost of batteries. Previously, the high-cost batteries were not affordable for these under-developed or developing countries. These solar powered rechargeable batteries can last for years.
Different brands are coming up with innovations in digital hearing aids daily and trying to improve their quality. Nowadays hearing aid companies focus mainly on user-specific needs and customize these listening devices accordingly. Also, these brands are working on interconnecting digital hearing aids with the human cognitive system in the brain, with the help of Artificial Intelligence technology.
Modern digital hearing aids can be accessible from smartphones via wireless technologies like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, FM, and the like. Other features also include talkback features, in which the Artificial Intelligence technology used in digital hearing aids allows the device to detect the listening environment of the user, and can actually give voice commands to guide him/her towards the right direction.
We know, that digital hearing aids have already come a long way in the field of technology, like understanding the listening needs of the user, and delivering clear speech accordingly. Hearing aid brands today are focusing mainly on improving the sound quality, so as to make speech and other sounds understandable even in noisy situations. That day is not far when digital hearing aids will be having automated music playing features, and even special mobile phones and headphones will soon be introduced for the so-called ‘hearing impaired’ people, as digital wireless technology have the potential to eradicate the impact of disabilities from the world.