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 modern(ish) hearing aid, it turns out, was developed during the 1950s–the basic shape, that is. And that old style hearing aid tends to be the one we generally remember and think of. The problem is that a hearing aid made in the 1950s is just about as out-dated as an ear trumpet. To comprehend just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unshackle our imaginations.
Hearing Aids, Then And Now
In order to better recognize just how advanced hearing aids have become, it’s useful to have some context about where they started out. If we follow the history back far enough, you can probably find some type of hearing assistance device as far back as the 1500s (though, there’s no confirmation that these wooden, ear-shaped artifacts actually worked).
The first partially successful hearing assistance apparatus was most likely the ear trumpet. This construct was shaped like, well, a long horn. You would put the narrow end inside your ear so that the wide end faced out. These, um, devices were not really high tech, but they did offer some measurable help.
The real revolution came once someone invited electricity to the party. The hearing aid as we now know it was really created in the 1950s. They were rather basic, using transistors and large, primitive batteries to get the job done. But a hearing aid that could be easily worn and hidden began with these devices. Of course, modern hearing aids may share the same shape and function as those early 1950s models–but their performance goes far beyond what was conceivable 70 years ago.
Hearing Aid’s Modern Features
Put simply, modern hearing aids are technological wonders. And they’re constantly developing. Since the late twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been utilizing digital technologies in some powerful ways. Power is the first and most essential way. Modern hearing aids can pack significantly more power into a much smaller area than their earlier predecessors.
And with that improved power comes a long list of sophisticated advances:
- Bluetooth connectivity: Contemporary hearing aids can now communicate with all of your Bluetooth devices. You will use this function on a daily basis. For instance, hearing aids used to have a tough time dealing with phone calls because users would hear significant (and sometimes unpleasant) feedback. When you connect to your phone via Bluetooth, the transition is smooth and communicating is effortless. This is true for a wide variety of other scenarios involving electronic devices. This means simple, feedback free connection to your music, TV, etc.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss does not occur across all frequencies and wavelengths equally. Maybe low frequency noise is hard to hear (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids are far more efficient because they can boost only the frequencies you have a difficult time hearing.
- Health monitoring: Advanced Health monitoring software is also included in modern hearing aid choices. For instance, some hearing aids can detect when you’ve fallen. There are others that can keep you informed about your fitness goals such as how many steps that you’ve taken.
- Speech recognition: The ultimate goal, for most hearing aid users, is to assist in communication. Separating and amplifying voices, then, is a principal feature of the software of many hearing aids–which can be quite handy in a wide range of scenarios, from a packed restaurant to an echo-y board room.
- 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 enables them to be more heavy-duty. 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.
Just like rotary phones no longer exemplify long-distance communication, the hearing aids of old no longer capture what these devices are. Hearing aids aren’t what they used to be. And we should be excited because they’re a lot better than they used to be.