When was the last time you used that old ear trumpet? 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 model hearing aid is generally the one we remember and think of. The trouble is that a hearing aid built in the 1950s is just about as antiquated as a hearing trumpet. To comprehend just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unshackle our imaginations.
The History of Hearing Aids
It’s helpful to have some perspective concerning where hearing aids began to be able to better perceive how advanced they have become. As far back as the 1500s, it’s possible to come across some form of hearing aid (though, there’s no proof that these wooden, ear-shaped items actually worked).
The “ear trumpet” was perhaps the first partially effective hearing assistance apparatus. This device appeared to be an elongated horn. You would put the small end in your ear so that the wide end faced out. These, um, devices weren’t exactly high tech, but they did offer some measurable help.
Once electricity was introduced, hearing aids had a real innovation. In the 1950s the hearing aid that we are all familiar with was created. In order to work properly, they used large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a quite rudimentary design. But a hearing aid that could be easily worn and hidden started with these devices. Admittedly, modern hearing aids may share the same form and function as those early 1950s designs–but their functionality goes far beyond what was conceivable 70 years ago.
Modern Capabilities of Hearing Aids
Bottom line, modern hearing aids are technological wonders. And they keep getting better. Since the later years of the twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been using digital technologies in several profound ways. Power is the first and most essential way. Modern hearing aids can pack significantly more power into a much smaller space than their earlier predecessors.
And a number of cutting-edge advances come with greater power:
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss doesn’t occur across all frequencies and wavelengths uniformly. Maybe low frequency sound gets lost (or vice versa). Contemporary hearing aids can be programmed to amplify only those sounds that you are unable to hear so well, producing a much more effective hearing aid.
- Construction: Modern hearing aids are usually made of high tech materials, so they feel more comfortable. While these new materials allow hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also allows them to be more robust. 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: Modern hearing aids can now communicate with all of your Bluetooth devices. You will use this feature every day. For instance, hearing aids used to have a difficult time with telephone calls because users would experience considerable (and sometimes unpleasant) feedback. When you connect to your cellphone via Bluetooth, the transition is simple and communicating is effortless. This is true for a wide range of other scenarios involving electronic devices. This means simple, feedback free connection to your music, TV, etc.
- Speech recognition: The ultimate goal, for many hearing aid users, is to enhance communication. Many hearing aids, then, have integrated speech recognition software designed to isolate and boost voices mainly–from a crowded restaurant to an echo-y board room, this feature is useful in many scenarios.
- Health monitoring: Sophisticated Health tracking software is also incorporated into modern hearing aid choices. if you have a fall, for example, some hearing aids can recognize that. There are other features 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 represent what these devices are. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And that’s a good thing–because now they’re even better.