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… archaic.
The basic shape of the modern hearing aid was developed in the 1950s. And for some reason, that’s the hearing aid which has become identified in our collective consciousness. But thinking of a hearing aid like this isn’t accurate because those old hearing aids are out-dated technology. We need to really expand our thinking if we want to recognize how much better modern hearing aids are.
Hearing Aids, Then And Now
So that you can better comprehend just how sophisticated hearing aids have become, it’s helpful to have some context about where they started out. If we follow the history back far enough, you can probably find some form of hearing assistance device as far back as the 1500s (though, there’s no proof that these wooden, ear-shaped artifacts actually worked).
The “ear trumpet” was most likely the first somewhat effective hearing assistance approach. This device looked like a long trumpet. The wide end pointed out and the small end was put into your ear. These, er, devices were not really high tech, but they did offer some measurable assistance.
Once electricity was introduced, hearing aids experienced a major revolution. The hearing aid as we now know it was really created in the 1950s. They were fairly rudimentary, using transistors and big, primitive batteries to effectively work. But a hearing aid that could be easily worn and hidden began with these devices. The hearing aids of the 1950s may have looked comparable to modern hearing aids but the technology and functionality is worlds apart.
Hearing Aid’s Modern Capabilities
Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it bluntly. And they keep getting better. Since the late twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been using digital technologies in a number of powerful ways. Power is the first and most essential way. Modern hearing aids can pack considerably more power into a much smaller area than their earlier predecessors.
And with that increased power comes a long list of sophisticated developments:
- Health monitoring: State-of-the-art Health monitoring software is also incorporated into modern hearing aid choices. For example, some hearing aids can recognize when you’ve had a fall. There are other functions that can keep you informed about your fitness goals such as how many steps that you’ve taken.
- Construction: Modern hearing aids feel more comfortable because they are constructed from advanced materials. These new materials allow hearing aids to be lighter and more robust at the same time. And with the addition of long-lasting, rechargeable batteries, it’s easy to see how not only the inside–but the outside–of hearing aids have improved over the years.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss usually occurs as loss of specific frequencies and wavelengths of sound. Perhaps you have a harder time hearing high-frequency noises (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids can be programmed to boost only those sounds that you are unable to hear so well, resulting in a much more effective hearing aid.
- Speech recognition: The biggest goal, for most hearing aid users, is to assist in communication. Separating and amplifying voices, then, is a primary function of the software of many hearing aids–which can be quite helpful in a wide range of scenarios, from a packed restaurant to an echo-y board room.
- Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids can now connect to other devices via wireless Bluetooth technology. You will utilize this function every day. Older hearing aids, for example, would have irritating feedback when you would attempt to talk on the telephone. When you connect to your phone using Bluetooth, the transition is smooth and communication is effortless. This is true for a wide variety of other situations involving electronic devices. This means quick, feedback free connection to your music, TV, etc.
Just as 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 that’s a good thing–because now they’re even better.