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You may remember the hearing aids your grandparents wore when you were a kid. Perhaps you recall, they were big, non-discrete and seemed to squeak allot. Hearing aid technology has improved a lot over the past few decades, with smaller stream lined designs and a slew of convenient features. Hearing aid technology can be considered either advanced or basic, based on the sophistication of the processor. Even today’s basic digital hearing aids offer far more benefit than the best hearing aids of previous generations.
New hearing aid technology
At their core, hearing aids have always been made of four basic parts: a microphone, a processor, a receiver and a power source. The microphone picks up the sounds in your environment and passes it to the processor. The processor enhances the signal and delivers it to the receiver which delivers the amplified signal to the ear canal. The power source, or battery, drives the system. All hearing aids process sound, which means that when sound arrives into the hearing aid, it has to be sectioned into chunks of sound (sometimes referred to as “channels”) and digitized before it can be amplified. The better the hearing aid, the more flexibility it has to “chunk” sounds customized to your unique hearing loss prescription. There are so many features digital hearing aids have to offer as digital hearing aid technology advances.
- Bluetooth compatibility: Bluetooth technology has the ability to improve the signal-to-noise ratio and eliminate feedback from the microphone because the signal bypasses the microphone and directly enters the hearing aid’s processor.
- Rechargeable batteries: Increasingly, hearing aids come with rechargeable batteries, allowing a person to stop swapping out tiny button batteries every few days or weeks. It’s anticipated that these will be widely available with most hearing aid models in the next few years.
Artificial intelligence: Some hearing aids have a feature that allows them to “learn” your preferences, a type of AI or artificial intelligence.
- Binaural processing: Binaural processing means a pair of hearing aids communicate wirelessly with each other. This technology mimics the brain’s ability to process information coming from both ears and helps reduce manual adjustments.
- Directional microphone systems: Directional microphone systems are designed to boost sounds coming from the front of the wearer and reduce sounds coming from other directions.
- Digital noise reduction: Digital noise reduction systems analyze the signal to determine if it contains unwanted noise. If this unwanted noise is detected, this system reduces the level of noise.
- Data logging: Data logging is a feature that stores data about the listening environments in which you wear your hearing aids and your preferences for programs, volume levels and other features. The information can be accessed by the hearing healthcare professional when you return for a follow-up appointment.
- Wind noise reduction: Although fairly specific in its application, wind noise reduction can make a world of difference for those who spend time enjoying outdoor hobbies. Wind noise reduction detects the impact of the wind blowing across the hearing aid microphones and avoids or reduces the amplification of it.
- Telecoil: A telecoil is a wireless feature that picks up electromagnetic signals from compatible telephones or looped rooms.
- FM compatibility: Frequency modulation (FM) compatibility is a wireless feature that enables hearing aids to connect with FM systems,
A Digital Revolution
Modern digital hearing aids can help almost every individual with mild to severe hearing loss achieve better hearing. The rapid development of ever more sophisticated digital signal processing technologies and algorithms make digital hearing aids the best choice to achieve better hearing.
Digital hearing aids are uniquely able to process and separate out troublesome background noise while simultaneously enhancing critical speech signals necessary for understanding. Because a more precise prescription is possible, your Hearing Professional will be able to bring you closer to normal hearing than is possible with traditional analog instruments.
Hearing Services of Antioch
If you are using hearing aids and they aren’t working for you like they used to, do not delay any longer. Contact us at Hearing Services of Antioch to set up an appointment today. We can talk more about what features are available and which ones will help you live the life you love with ease.