American Hearing & Audiology - Conway, AR

Woman wearing hearing aids climbing hill with family and laughing at a joke.

Have you used your ear trumpet lately? No? You don’t use one? Because that technology is centuries old. Okay, I suppose that seems logical. Ear trumpets are a bit… antiquated.

The basic shape of the modern hearing aid was designed in the 1950s. And that old style hearing aid is generally the one we remember and picture. 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 get an accurate picture of how much better modern hearing aids are.

The History of Hearing Aids

To be able to better understand just how advanced hearing aids have become, it’s useful to have some perspective about where they started out. As far back as the 1500s, you can come across some form of hearing aid (whether any of them ever actually helped you improve your hearing is still up for debate).

The “ear trumpet” was probably the first marginally effective hearing assistance mechanism. This construct was shaped like, well, a long trumpet. The wide end faced the world and the narrow end was directed into your ear. These, er, devices were not really high tech, but they did provide some measurable help.

Once electricity was introduced, hearing aids had a major innovation. The hearing aid that we are familiar with was essentially developed in the 1950s. In order to do their job, they relied on large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a rather basic design. But a hearing aid that could be conveniently worn and hidden started with these devices. Admittedly, modern hearing aids might share the same shape and function as those early 1950s models–but their functionality goes light years beyond what was possible 7 decades ago.

Hearing Aid’s Modern Capabilities

Simply put, modern hearing aids are technological wonders. And they keep making improvements. In a number of powerful ways, modern hearing aids have been making use of the digital technology of the later twentieth century. Power is the first and most crucial way. Earlier versions had batteries that had less power in a larger space than their modern counterparts.

And with that greater power comes a large number of sophisticated advances:

  • Health monitoring: Sophisticated Health tracking software is also integrated into modern hearing aid options. if you fall, for example, some hearing aids can recognize that. Other features can count your steps or give you exercise encouragement.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids can now connect to other devices using wireless Bluetooth technology. This can be extremely useful every day. Older hearing aids, for instance, would have annoying feedback when you would attempt to talk on the telephone. When you connect to your cellphone via Bluetooth, the transition is smooth and communication is easy. This is true for a wide variety of other situations involving electronic devices. This means simple, feedback free connection to your TV, music, etc.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids feel more comfortable because they are made of advanced materials. These new materials permit hearing aids to be lighter and more heavy-duty at the same time. And by adding long-lasting, rechargeable batteries, it’s easy to see how not only the inside–but also the outside–of hearing aids have advanced over the years.
  • Speech recognition: For lots of hearing aid users, the ultimate objective of these devices is to assist in communication. Isolating and amplifying voices, then, is a primary function of the software of many hearing aids–from a crowded restaurant to an echo-y board room, this feature is useful in many scenarios.
  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss doesn’t occur through all wavelengths and frequencies equally. Maybe low frequency sound is hard to hear (or vice versa). Contemporary hearing aids are far more efficient because they are able to amplify only the frequencies you have a hard time hearing.

Just like rotary phones no longer represent long-distance communication, older hearing aids no longer capture what these devices are. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And we should be excited because they’re a lot better than they used to be.

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