Radically different hearing aids of the future

I like to speculate about how technology will make hearing aids a whole lot better. I’m not talking about the way manufacturers are bandying the phrase AI around now but hearing aids an order of magnitude better than the glorified amps they are now - either lip reading so that the speaker one is facing is properly focussed by the HA or even using lip-reading coupled with speech recognition to boost it to the level of comprehensibility. How far into the future do people think we are looking? My guess is 5-10 years but it might well be sooner. I would think that they are working on this but that the hardware is not yet quite there. It will mean big profits for the first manufacturer to come up with a truly workable AI solution. What other possibilities do people envisage?

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I thought lip reading was “our” second natural skill? I don’t think I will need one. I can even go deaf and read everyone’s lips and can guess 60-70% of what they are saying. I can even guess what they are about to speak before even starting it! Kind of mind reading. Esper.

Things got difficult because of the stupid “surgical mask”, that alone causes hard-of hearing person like me even hell, and suffering.

By the way, talk about topic. I don’t think there will be anytime soon technology ground-breaking. You already mentioned it. Ai, will soon integrated into helping hearing adjustment. Just no idea how.

How about size? Hearing aids probably can’t make it way smaller than it are because they need to design a microphone array to work with directionality technology. With 2 or 3 set of microphone placement on the hearing aids body. Too small or too close together a microphone will lose the benefit of directionality. Its quite opposite. The bigger the better because more space between microphone ports = better microphone directionality.

Microphone? I believe there is still room to improve, but no idea how.

Receiver probably staying the same unless they have another method of making speaker other than armature driver. Maybe double or triple armature driver like expensive in-ear headphone? But I also don’t know, why don’t they make it as well. Still a single armature driver. But hey, nothing wrong with single armature driver. With right tuning and programming. It can sound great.

But there is one thing they are trying hard to improve it. Feedback.

Imagine you could keep increasing gains up the volume without feedback issues? That would be a wonderful technology breakthrough.

However, in the end. If your ear can’t do better with hearing aids.

You go with a cohlea implant.

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In a hearing aid, the processor consumes the most power to process the sounds. A few years ago, the technology of making processors advanced. that many more transistors can be placed on one chip, and at the same time these processors are more economical.
Memory manufacturing technology is also improving, so that more data can be stored. If more can be stored, then manufacturers will find a way to use it.

What I am about to mention may still be science fiction, hearing aids are only as good as the cochlea allows. If the cochlea is too damaged, hearing aids cannot help us.
To understand speech better, we may see a day when Cohlea implants will be available for everyone to completely replace a hearing aid.

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A lot of the research seems to be about correcting hearing loss. I’d like to think that some where in the future aids will no longer be needed at all. Of course not in my future

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Hearing aids are radically different than my first hearing aids 18 years ago. So it stands to reason they will continue to evolve.

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@cvkemp: Chuck … I need to think about this for a moment, okay?

I believe they will continue to evolve too. However, I’m concerned.

I’d like to see results provided quickly and in a meaningful environment. I’ve used HA’s for about 20 years. I dread having to replace them. after a year I’ve seen an improvement with my Phonak P90’s. Long ago I had a wonderful audiologist who provided good results with every visit. Bless her she sold her business. May she be healthy and enjoy her retirement

DaveL

Chuck,
Hearing aids have definitely changed over the years. My first VA issued hearing aid was issued 42+ years ago for a mild/moderate loss in 1 ear. That thing was way larger than the ones I use for severe to profound loss today. The old analog hearing aids were huge, and in my humble opinion had a better sound if you could get the right one.
After digital hearing aids appeared, someone got the bright idea that hearing aid users were self conscious about the hearing aids,and they have been getting smaller and smaller ever since. Some are even so small that features are deleted to make room to go into the canal. Blue tooth, t-coil etc.
I will say that the latest digital aids are far superior to the ones that came out in the beginning.
Dan

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I now wear the More1 aids with full skeleton ear molds. But I still prefer the ITE aids, not the really small ones that can’t be seen but still in the ear. I have worn glass the majority of my life and can’t seem to get use the my aids and glasses fighting over space behind my ears. Then there is the blasted face mask that I still have to wear at the VA clinics and a few other doctors offices.

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You and everyone else on the planet with a hearing problem…grrrrr
Dan

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One thing I think may come about is an AI “re-esser” . Almost all professional sound engineers us de-essers to remove sibilance in their recordings. This removes/controls all the consonants… Ss, Ts, CHs etc. These sounds have no tonality so they can’t be “out of tune” but they often represent a source of distortion
For the hearing challenged though , this takes out the “separators” making some sounds indistinguishable. Most of the Zoom meetings I attend I watch with instantaneous translation which I’m pretty certain have a significant level of AI input. I could see a development of the same level of sound processing "re-essing"what we hear.

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Well, I’ve worn aids almost 35 years, and other than the auto-sensing for adjusting the volume, and today’s streaming capability, I don’t think aids have changed that much in decades.

Why? Cuz a few things still hang out there much boasted about but simply NOT there: 1.) distinguishing speech in LOUD noise using just the aids, and not a Roger/external device; 2.) waterproofing to enable folks with aids to do ALL the water sports others do without killing our aids; 3.) better battery life now that nearly all aids are moving to rechargeables in order to save our landfills from all those itsy-bitsy teensy-weeny batteries.

My jaded view of reality is that manufacturers focus on adding YADDA YADDA without addressing these very basic but nearly unsolvable issues listed. I don’t need a phone app for my aids to check my blood pressure or tell me I’ve just fallen down.

I need a waterproof, rechargeable aid with a 24-hr battery life that focuses on human speech frequencies so I can distinguish speech in any environment.

That’s all. I’m guessing it won’t happen in my lifetime.

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I hear you!
Process starts by finding the right audiologist.
Mine is hard working; after a year I’m hearing results. Perfect? NO! But we are on the right path now.

As a Jeep owner I’ve hear “It’s a Jeep Thing!” Many times–from incompetent service at dealers. Your summary in bold should be the service provided to all of us.

My last hearing aids didn’t work because the audiologist was incompetent and didn’t set them up right. Fired the audiologist!

“It’s a system thing”… It doesn’t work.

DaveL
Toronto

I for one don’t have issues with speech recognition in noisy environments like I use to. I don’t have issues with wind or road noise like I use to. And I can even ride my Vespa without muting or powering off my aids like I use to. I understand that everyone is different with different hearing issues. But I contribute a lot of my improvements to my audiologist.

By the way I am to the point of only using my default program and sometimes using the TV adapter

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I believe the key to success is the audiologist.

My first audiologist was amazing. When I left her office I always heard better! When she sold her business I left. The firm is no longer in business. Listen Up Canada.

My second audiologist was always polite and helpful. However, only one partner on staff was competent. She left. I bought my second hearing aids from her partner. They were awful. All they knew to do was to turn up the gain. She sold her business, and I left after issues.

https://gowlingwlg.com/en/insights-resources/client-work/2021/connect-hearing-acquires-peel-audiology/

Connect Hearing is owned by Sonova. I hope their customers receive better service.

I’ve read lots, and participated here. I know more now. My audiologist continues to be very helpful. My last appointment was a milestone; he changed settings and I’m hearing better. I’m grateful.

This system has to serve all of us. I want what 1Bluejay wants above.

DaveL
Toronto

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I agree that hearing aid companies need to just focus on hear loss and how to help the individuals with hearing loss. It seems that marketing always takes control of every corporation and company and in the end destroys them. Marketing in most cases knows nothing about the products they are trying to sale only how to BS the public into buying their BS.

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Soon after the pandemic started, I changed to an in-ear-only design hearing device (a so-called ‘hearable’). It does not interfere w/ a mask and–for me–does a good job. I’m still wearing it; will move up to a different device in same category soon, I think. Don’t believe I could ever go back to a behind-the-ear design.

However, we are not their clients. They sell to practitioners and audiologists. We pay those people to help us with our hearing loss.
System is like the automotive industry.

I have Phonak Audeo Pardise P90R hearing aids that are a year old.

Now I hear via Youtube that Costco is no longer selling their identical private label hearing aid, because it’s undependable with “charging issues” according to an audiologist out of Phoenix.

My advice to colleagues is to “Protect your hearing” because you don’t want to go down this path.

But with modern internet the marketing is pointed at us the patient and end user the drug companies do the same thing. The point is for us to want the drugs or hearing aids so bad we pressure the doctors and audiologist for them.

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I still have my old AGX (anyone ever heard of that consortium?!) and ancient Oticon ITE aids. I wore the AGX ones during the pandemic when hubs had to color & cut my hair. I agree there are advantages to this style of aid that can’t be copied with the RIEs or BTEs out there.

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