- Rechargeable hearing aids
- Digital networking
- Titanium hearing aids
- Invisible hearing aids
- Wearables and hearables
- Thought control
- Control by viewing direction
What can modern hearing aids do?
Rechargeable hearing aids
Hearing aids make life easier in many ways. However, many people find it a nuisance to always have to change batteries and require spares on longer journeys. The latest generation of hearing aids work with rechargeable batteries, making such concerns a thing of the past. Once charged, these batteries allow you to enjoy up to 24 hours of uninterrupted hearing. Thanks to their innovative technology, lithium-ion batteries also last 40% longer than conventional ones.
And with a charger, you can charge your hearing aid just as easily as your mobile phone. In some models, the charging cradle can also be used to dry the hearing aid and as a protective hard case.
Short charging times and mobile chargers mean it’s never a problem if you forget to charge your hearing aid.
Another advantage of rechargeable batteries is that in the future, there will be no batteries to dispose o Used batteries represent a considerable amount of waste. Someone wearing a hearing aid in both ears for five years would use around 500 zinc–air batteries. Hearing aids with rechargeable batteries are therefore not only easier to use, but also significantly more environmentally friendly.
Digitization is now playing an important role in modern hearing aids. Modern hearing aids can be paired wirelessly via Bluetooth with smartphones or smart watches, for example. If a hearing aid is paired with a mobile phone, it is possible to make phone calls easily and directly via the hearing aid using Android, iOS or other operating systems.
In addition, the hearing aid can often be controlled by associated smartphone apps. With a smart remote control, the respective hearing program can be adapted wirelessly to the background noise, and the hearing aid volume adjusted separately for each ear. This means that in a busy restaurant, for example, the babble of background voices can be suppressed, thus allowing you to focus on the conversation you are having with your companion.
Background noise from the street, for example, can be muffled, and natural sounds such as birdsong can be amplified. Some apps and hearing aids are able to detect the acoustic environment and adjust automatically.
There are also apps featuring tips and instructions on using and caring
for your hearing aid, as well as apps for those with tinnitus that offer a customized sound library to alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus
Some models can also be connected wirelessly to TV or audio devices. This turns the hearing aid into wireless headphones that conduct sound directly into the ear, allowing you to enjoy the sound at full strength.
Titanium hearing aids
There are hearing aids made from medical-grade titanium. This makes the hearing aids sturdy, light, and resilient. Such hearing aids win points not only for their minimal size, but also, thanks to the customized production process, for the fact that they sit perfectly in the ear canal. They are discreet, as well as water and dust resistant. A titanium hearing aid can also adapt automatically to ambient noise without the need for manual adjustment, thanks to its state-of-the-art technology.
Invisible hearing aids
Phonak Lyric is the first 100% invisible hearing aid. As the Lyric sits deep in the ear canal, it is entirely invisible from the outside. It can be worn for several months at a time and utilizes the anatomy of the ear to allow natural hearing. Thanks to the modern technology employed, you can wear the Lyric for all daily activities, including sport, and enjoy natural sound through an invisible hearing aid.
Wearables – small, intelligent devices worn on the body – have been available on the market for some time now. They include smart watches and fitness arm bands. These wearables are now available for the ear too: Hearables. Hearables are smart headphones that provide a wireless connection to a smartphone, for example, or to sensors for medical monitoring and activity tracking. These wearables and hearables are primarily geared towards people with intact hearing, which is why hearables are not the same as hearing aids.
Hearables are chiefly designed to allow people who can hear well to filter out noise they don’t want to hear, while hearing aids are designed to provide a comprehensively better hearing experience for people with impaired hearing. Hearables are therefore interesting primarily as a lifestyle product that makes it possible to transfer music, phone calls, or other digital signals directly to the ear.
How will the hearing aids of the future work?
Despite great technical advances so far, hearing aids are still unable to completely replace human hearing. According to the World Health Organization (WHO)
, 466 million people worldwide are dependent on some form of technical assistance for hearing. Work is constantly being carried out in the field of research and development to provide these people with better hearing. There are various ideas about how hearing aids might work and be controlled in the future.
In the not-too-distant future, it may be possible to control a hearing aid using your thoughts. Scientists are hoping to develop hearing aids that adapt dynamically to their wearer's intentions. If you’re standing between two groups of people in conversation, for example, and you only want to listen to one group, the hearing aid will recognize what you want to listen to and transmit only the conversation you want to follow.*
It may be possible for the models of the future to follow the hearing aid wearer's conversational intentions by means of head or eye movements. You may one day be able to determine who you want to listen to simply by the direction you are looking in.**
Researchers at Harvard University and the University of South California have found a way to regenerate cells deep inside the inner ear, at least in animal trials. In a crucial breakthrough compared to earlier attempts, they have found a way to transfer medication that can restore destroyed the nerves and cells to the place it is required.
*Saarland University of Technology and Economics
** Hearing4All Research Center at the University of Oldenburg
The future sounds exciting, doesn’t it? It may be some time before the technologies we’ve described here make their way onto the market, but in the meantime we’ll keep you updated with all the latest news from the world of hearing aid technology. Meanwhile, you can find information here about the best hearing aids from leading manufacturers
and get help in choosing a suitable hearing aid
. If you need a new hearing aid, simply come in for a one-to-one consultation
with one of our experienced audiologists.