Hearing Aids and Artificial Intelligence

By: | Tags: | Comments: 0 | December 27th, 2019

Duane L. Smelser

Duane's personal and professional life has been about making a difference in the quality of people’s lives. After 15 years as a Team Building and Communication Consultant to organizations,his wife Donna introduced him to the idea of being a Hearing Instrument Specialist.The more he explored this profession, the more he saw an opportunity to make a profound difference with people and families.
Duane L. Smelser

Artificial intelligence or AI is revolutionizing a number of businesses. AI refers to computers and computer systems that are able to carry out tasks which previously were limited to specifically human kinds of intelligence. AI is changing the way businesses approach the data they collect. It’s making big changes in the way that goods are manufactured. It’s also having big impacts in the world of medicine and medical devices.

In the healthcare industry, artificial intelligence helps to cut through the increasingly complex data collected by healthcare providers and imaging equipment. Artificial intelligence has made it possible for oncologists to diagnose cancer at earlier stages. They can also get detailed information not just on a type of cancer, but on a specific tumor. This can have real impacts on success rates for treatment.

Artificial intelligence has applications for people with chronic issues and disabilities, too. One example of this is in wearable devices. AI is making it possible for people with diabetes and other chronic conditions to monitor their condition. Not only can they get more information, it’s more detailed and is collected with less interference. This is also a trend in the area of hearing loss.

AI is changing the way devices like hearing aids are made and used. Today’s hearing aids are more complex than the ones used ten or twenty years ago. They can interface with smartphones and other computers via Bluetooth technology. Having access to a computer means that hearing aids can use artificial intelligence to learn how to optimize performance for their users.

This might sound silly or far-fetched to people who aren’t familiar with AI. But it’s really very simple. The hearing aid adjusts based on the preferences of the user. As the wearer adjusts settings over the first few weeks of use, the hearing aid is learning what levels work best for them. That’s why it’s not strange to say that it’s possible to train a modern hearing aid. Models like the Livio AI are already incorporating this technology. The Livio AI has many other features, too. It’s a multi-function wearable that can do things like monitor the user’s level of physical activity.

Many of these newer hearing aids work in concert with an app on the user’s smartphone. The apps help people track how much they use their hearing aids, and in what contexts. This data is valuable for the user. It gives them a clear breakdown, allowing them see who and what they spend their time on. This data collection is also basically what allows the device to learn. This is a win-win for both manufacturers and users. It makes everyone’s life easier, and ensures that these devices are operating at optimal levels.

Artificial intelligence is continuing to expand rapidly. This field is far from done when it comes to innovation. It’s still a buzzword and a growing field. One interesting development on the horizon is the potential for hearing aids that zero in on a particular speaker. Over the past several decades one challenge in this technology has been background noise. The brain naturally latches onto a speaker’s voice and processes that differently from other noises. It relegates environmental sounds to the background.

However, artificial hearing aids haven’t really been able to do that. Right now, tech giant Google is making progress on a product that promises to do that. Research teams there have demonstrated an ability to single out one voice among many, and zero in on that sound feed. Artificial intelligence is what allows them to do this. Interestingly, this technology wasn’t developed just with hearing aids in mind. Google also plans to use it to improve the quality of Android phones.

Artificial intelligence has made a big impact when it comes to wearables in all areas. For healthcare devices like hearing aids, these innovations have created big improvements in quality of life. As multi-functionality becomes a possibility, hearing aid wearers are able to monitor other areas of their health. Devices like the Livio AI are helping them to track physical fitness. It will be interesting to see how hearing aids continue to develop, and what useful data they will one day generate for wearers and healthcare providers.

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