When was the last time you used that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t use one? Because that technology is hundreds of years 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 design, that is. And that old model hearing aid tends to be the one we generally remember and picture. The trouble is that a hearing aid made in the 1950s is just about as out-dated as an ear trumpet. We need to really advance our thinking if we want to understand how much more advanced modern hearing aids are.
The History of Hearing Aids
It’s worthwhile to have some context concerning where hearing aids started so that you can better understand how advanced they have become. If we trace the history back far enough, you can most likely find some type of hearing assistance device as far back as the 1500s (whether any of them ever really helped you hear better is still up for debate).
The “ear trumpet” was most likely the first partially effective hearing assistance approach. This device looked like an elongated trumpet. You would put the narrow end inside your ear so that the wide end faced out. At present, you wouldn’t think of this device as high tech, but back then they actually offer some assistance.
When electricity was introduced, hearing aids had a major revolution. The hearing aid as we now know it was really created in the 1950s. In order to do their job, they made use of large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a fairly rudimentary design. But a hearing aid that could be easily 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 capability is worlds apart.
Modern Features of Hearing Aids
Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it plainly. And they continue making improvements. Since the late twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been using digital technologies in several significant ways. The first, and the most crucial way, is straight forward: power. Modern hearing aids can pack considerably more power into a much smaller area than their earlier predecessors.
And with that greater power comes a large number of innovative developments:
- Speech recognition: The ultimate goal, for many hearing aid owners, is to enable communication. Isolating and amplifying voices, then, is a primary feature of the software of many hearing aids–from a busy restaurant to an echo-y meeting hall, this feature is useful in many situations.
- Construction: Modern hearing aids are normally made of high tech materials, so they feel more comfortable. While these new materials enable hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also enables them to be more heavy-duty. 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: State-of-the-art Health tracking software is also integrated into modern hearing aid options. For instance, some hearing aids can recognize whether you’ve fallen. Other features can count your steps or give you exercise support.
- Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids are now able to connect to other devices using wireless Bluetooth technology. This can be incredibly helpful every day. Older hearing aids, for instance, would have irritating feedback when you would try to talk on the phone. With contemporary hearing aids, you can just connect to your cellphone via Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. This applies to a wide variety of other situations involving electronic devices. Because there’s no interference or feedback, it’s easier to listen to music, watch TV–you name it.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss doesn’t occur through all wavelengths and frequencies uniformly. Perhaps you have a harder time hearing high-frequency sounds (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids are far more effective because they are able to boost only the frequencies you have a hard time hearing.
Just like rotary phones no longer exemplify long-distance communication, the hearing aids of old no longer represent what these devices are. Hearing aids aren’t what they once were. And we should be excited because they’re substantially better than they were.