When was the last time you utilized that old ear trumpet? 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 fundamental shape of the modern hearing aid was designed in the 1950s. And for some reason, that’s the hearing aid which has become identified in our collective consciousness. The trouble is that a hearing aid made in the 1950s is just about as out-dated 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 useful to have some context about where hearing aids started in order to better perceive how advanced they have become. As far back as the 1500s, you can come across some form of hearing aid (whether any of them ever actually helped you hear better is still up for debate).
The first somewhat helpful hearing assistance device was probably the ear trumpet. This device was shaped like, well, a long trumpet. The wide end faced the world and the small end was put inside your ear. Today, you wouldn’t consider this device high tech, but back then they actually offer some assistance.
The real revolution came once someone invited electricity to the party. In the 1950s the hearing aid that we are all familiar with was created. They were rather rudimentary, using transistors and big, antiquated batteries to effectively work. But a hearing aid that could be conveniently worn and hidden began with these devices. Of course, modern hearing aids might share the same form and function as those early 1950s models–but their performance goes light years beyond what was possible 7 decades ago.
Modern Capabilities of Hearing Aids
Simply put, modern hearing aids are technological masterpieces. And they’re constantly developing. In many profound ways, modern hearing aids have been using the digital technology of the later twentieth century. Power is the first and most essential way. Modern hearing aids can pack significantly more power into a much smaller area than their earlier forerunners.
And with that improved power comes a large number of sophisticated advances:
- Construction: Modern hearing aids are normally made of advanced materials, so they feel more comfortable. While these new materials allow hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also allows them to be more heavy-duty. It’s easy to see how hearing aids have improved on the outside as well as the inside with the addition of long lasting and rechargeable batteries.
- Health monitoring: State-of-the-art Health monitoring software is also incorporated into modern hearing aid choices. if you have a fall, for instance, some hearing aids can detect that. Other features can count your steps or give you exercise support.
- Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids are now able to connect to other devices via wireless Bluetooth technology. This can be amazingly helpful on a daily basis. For example, hearing aids in the past had a tough time with telephone calls because users would hear significant (and sometimes uncomfortable) feedback. When you connect to your cellphone using Bluetooth, the transition is smooth and communication is easy. This applies to a wide range of other scenarios involving electronic devices. This means quick, feedback free connection to your TV, music, etc.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss normally occurs as loss of certain wavelengths and frequencies of sound. Perhaps low frequency noise gets lost (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids can be programmed to amplify only those sounds that you are unable to hear very well, creating a much more efficient hearing aid.
- Speech recognition: For many hearing aid owners, the ultimate goal of these devices is to enable communication. Isolating and amplifying voices, then, is a principal feature of the software of many hearing aids–from a crowded restaurant to an echo-y board room, this feature comes in handy in many circumstances.
Just like rotary phones no longer represent long-distance communication, the hearing aids of old no longer capture what these devices are. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And that’s a good thing–because now they’re even better.