The type of hearing aids of generations past is now long forgotten. Gone are the bulky, uncomfortable, feedback prone, unreliable, and inconvenient hearing aids from before the analog era. Hearing aids used to only have manual controls for volume. Some were smaller but had to be connected with a wire to a control unit. Many people with hearing loss would only wear them when absolutely necessary.
The Digital Revolution
Hearing aids today resemble little to their older cousins. Gone are manual controls and hanging wires. Today’s hearing aids are designed to be both comfortable and functional. There are numerous models that can be tailored to the type of hearing loss for every individual. Digital technology has made this revolution possible. Even the least expensive models now have digital technology incorporated in their designs.
Digital Technology and Hearing Aid Design
The most important advancement in hearing aids was the incorporation of digital signal processing into the design of hearing aids. The technology to turn the microphone’s input into a digital waveform and then processed by a computer chip gave designers the ability to enhance the functionality of the hearing aid. Digital hearing aids are now the best option for augmenting hearing because of hearing loss.
The Latest Improvements
Digital hearing aid design is constantly being improved. Feedback elimination was one of the first advancements and is now standard equipment. In recent years the ability to tune the signal to match the frequencies that are deficient for the individual are a huge benefit to augment hearing. This is similar to the graphic EQ adjustments on high end stereo equipment. With a hearing test, an audiologist can find the individual frequencies that are lacking and tune the hearing aid to augment those frequencies.
This fine tuning of the signal is also useful for the elimination of background noise. The hearing aid can be tuned to bring out the frequencies of the vocal range making speech easier to understand. Different tunings can be programmed into the memory of the hearing aid chip and the user can change them at their discretion depending in the environment they are in by using a wireless remote control. Some of the latest designs can even change the tuning automatically by analyzing the type of listening environment the user is in.
Interconnection to Today’s Technology
One of the coolest new features of modern hearing aids is their ability to connect to today’s digital devices. Many models are Bluetooth compatible so they can access the sound directly from any Bluetooth device such as cellphones, computers, TVs, and music devices. Digital hearing aids are a big improvement to the hearing aids of the past.