When was the last time you used that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t have one? Because that technology is centuries old. Okay, I suppose that makes sense. Ear trumpets are a bit… archaic.
The modern(ish) hearing aid, as it happens, was introduced during the 1950s–the basic design, that is. And that old model hearing aid tends to be the one we generally remember and picture. But thinking of a hearing aid in this way isn’t accurate because those old hearing aids are out-dated technology. To comprehend just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unleash our imaginations.
The History of Hearing Aids
So that you can better understand just how sophisticated hearing aids have become, it’s helpful to have some context about where they began. If we trace the history back far enough, you can likely find some form of hearing assistance device as far back as the 1500s (though, there’s no confirmation that these wooden, ear-shaped artifacts were actually effective).
The “ear trumpet” was probably the first partially effective hearing assistance apparatus. This device was shaped like, well, a long horn. The wide end pointed out and the narrow end was oriented into your ear. These, er, devices were not really high tech, but they did provide some measurable assistance.
When electricity was introduced, hearing aids experienced a real revolution. In the 1950s the hearing aid as we know it was created. They were rather basic, using transistors and big, primitive batteries to effectively work. But a hearing aid that could be conveniently worn and hidden started with these devices. The hearing aids of the 1950s might have appeared similar to modern hearing aids but the technology and functionality is worlds apart.
Modern Features of Hearing Aids
Put simply, modern hearing aids are technological masterpieces. And they keep making improvements. In several significant ways, modern hearing aids have been taking advantage of the digital technology of the later part of the twentieth century. The first, and the most crucial way, is simple: power. Modern hearing aids can pack substantially more power into a much smaller space than their earlier predecessors.
And a long list of sophisticated developments come with greater power:
- Bluetooth connectivity: Modern hearing aids can now connect to all of your Bluetooth devices. This can be amazingly helpful on a daily basis. Old style hearing aids, for example, would have annoying feedback when you would attempt to talk on the phone. With modern hearing aids, you can just connect to your cellphone using Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. You will also utilize Bluetooth connectivity to take part in a variety of other electronic activities. This means simple, feedback free connection to your TV, music, etc.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss does not manifest through all frequencies and wavelengths uniformly. Perhaps low frequency noise is hard to hear (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids are much more effective because they will amplify only the frequencies you have a hard time hearing.
- Construction: Modern hearing aids are typically constructed out of advanced materials, so they feel more comfortable. These new materials permit hearing aids to be lighter and more robust simultaneously. It’s easy to see how hearing aids have advanced on the outside as well as the inside by adding long lasting and rechargeable batteries.
- Health monitoring: Advanced Health monitoring software is also included in modern hearing aid options. if you have a fall, for instance, some hearing aids can detect that. There are others that can notify you about your fitness goals such as how many steps that you have taken.
- Speech recognition: The ultimate goal, for many hearing aid users, is to enable communication. Some hearing aids, then, have built-in speech recognition software designed to separate and amplify voices mainly–from a crowded restaurant to an echo-y board room, this feature is useful in many scenarios.
The older style hearing aids no longer exemplify what hearing aids are, just as rotary phones no longer capture what long distance communication looks like. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And that’s a good thing–because now they’re even better.