Have you utilized your ear trumpet lately? No? You don’t use one? Because that technology is centuries old. Okay, I suppose that makes sense. Ear trumpets are a bit… archaic.
The basic shape of the modern hearing aid was developed in the 1950s. And that old style hearing aid tends to be the one we generally remember and think of. But visualizing a hearing aid like this isn’t realistic because those old hearing aids are out-dated technology. We need to really advance our thinking if we want to understand how much better modern hearing aids are.
Hearing Aids, Then And Now
In order to better comprehend just how sophisticated hearing aids have become, it’s useful to have some perspective about where they started. As far back as the 1500s, it’s possible to find some form of hearing aid (whether any of them ever actually helped you hear better is still up for debate).
The “ear trumpet” was probably the first marginally effective hearing assistance apparatus. This device appeared to be an elongated trumpet. You would put the narrow end into your ear so that the wide end pointed out. These, er, devices weren’t exactly high tech, but they did offer some measurable assistance.
The real innovation came when electricity was invited to the party. In the 1950s the hearing aid as we know it was created. They were quite basic, using transistors and large, primitive batteries to get the job done. But these devices represent the birth of a hearing aid that could be easily worn and hidden. Admittedly, modern hearing aids might share the same shape and mission as those early 1950s models–but their performance goes light years beyond what was conceivable 7 decades ago.
Hearing Aid’s Modern Capabilities
Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it bluntly. And they continue getting better. In a few significant ways, modern hearing aids have been utilizing the digital technology of the later twentieth century. The first, and the most crucial way, is simple: power. Earlier models had batteries which had less power in a bigger space than their modern counterparts.
And a long list of innovative advances come with greater power:
- Speech recognition: For many hearing aid owners, the supreme goal of these devices is to enable communication. Isolating and boosting voices, then, is a primary function of the software of many hearing aids–which can be pretty helpful in a wide variety of situations, from a packed restaurant to an echo-y meeting room.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss does not manifest through all wavelengths and frequencies uniformly. Perhaps you have a harder time hearing high-frequency sounds (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids can be programmed to amplify only those sounds that you are unable to hear very well, resulting in a much more effective hearing aid.
- Construction: Modern hearing aids are typically made of advanced materials, so they feel more comfortable. These new materials permit hearing aids to be lighter and more heavy-duty at the same time. It’s easy to see how hearing aids have improved on the outside as well as the inside by adding long lasting and rechargeable batteries.
- Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids can now connect to other devices via wireless Bluetooth technology. You will utilize this function on a daily basis. For instance, hearing aids used to have a hard time with telephone calls because users would experience considerable (and sometimes uncomfortable) feedback. With modern hearing aids, you can just connect to your cellphone via Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. This applies to a wide variety of other situations involving electronic devices. This means simple, feedback free connection to your music, TV, etc.
- Health monitoring: State-of-the-art Health monitoring software is also incorporated into modern hearing aid options. For instance, some hearing aids can detect whether you’ve had a fall. There are others that can keep you informed about your fitness goals such as how many steps that you’ve taken.
Just like rotary phones no longer exemplify long-distance communication, older hearing aids no longer capture what these devices are. Hearing aids aren’t what they once were. And we should be excited because they’re much better than they used to be.