Hearing aids : technological advances

April 23, 2015 by Simon Dufort
Appareils auditifs : avancée techno
Technological progress in recent years has improved our everyday lives in many ways: smartphones, tablets, home automation, etc. But what about hearing aids? Their design has remained unchanged over the past five years, but an array of innovative functionalities can be found inside new generations of hearing aids.

Part miniaturization

For a long time, the industry tried to develop a hearing aid earphone similar to traditional speakers. Why? Because these speakers have two membranes (one for high frequency sounds and one for low frequency sounds) and therefore deliver better sound quality and a wider frequency band.

Nowadays, manufacturers use smaller parts and components, which allows them to make more efficient products. One has de‑
veloped a two-membrane headphone using miniature parts. Although it is the exact same size as the “old” single-membrane generation, it provides much higher quality sound.

Computational power

You may be surprised to learn that modern hearing aids feature a microprocessor, RAM, Bluetooth antennas, and a microprogram. They are, so to speak, portable microcomputers! Digital technology also allows them to execute tasks of increased complexity.

Thanks to their computational power, each hearing aid can process information from its own two microphones (front and rear), in addition to the second hearing aid’s microphones. That means each pair of hearing aids can manage information from four microphones (and a virtual network of eight microphones for the pair), while adjusting sound in real time without any noticeable delay. These technical capabilities drastically improve hearing quality in noisy environments.

Bluetooth compatibility

Some hearing aids feature Bluetooth technology and they can be paired with a smartphone or tablet so users can receive calls and listen to music right from their hearing aids. They can also use their phone or tablet to locate misplaced hearing aids or adjust the volume. They can even use their phone as a microphone for remote listening!

In noisy environments, users can adjust the sound and volume of their hearing aids with their phone based on surround sound, and record their geographical position with geo-referencing. The next time users are in the same location, their hearing aids will automatically switch to the preset settings (provided users have their phone with them).

For more details about technological advances in hearing aids, consult an audioprosthetist.

To determine which hearing aids are best for you, consult an audioprosthetist.
References:
Website: http://www.widex.pro/en/innovations/creating-the-best-sound/clearband/
https://us.hearing.siemens.com/pro/hearing-product-portfolio/binax/key-features/
http://www.starkeycanada.ca/starkey-products/product-overview/browse-by-technology/made-for-iphone-hearing-aids/Halo
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanotechnology