And next stop after that would be nice to have IFTTT
I’m a ReSound Quattro 9 61 wearer and an enthusiast about that model. And there is great new news in the article. But in reading the whole article, it comes across to me almost like an ad for Quattro’s disguised as a news article. Maybe I’m just a cynical old person. But thanks for the article! And the Quattro’s should work great with Android where you can make almost any ambient AI assistant your default phone assistant, e.g., Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana, … OOPS! Not Siri, though, I guess…
Yeah, I think the hearing aid manufacturers have become more savvy when it comes to working with the popular consumer tech media.
What can I help you with?
Turn my right hearing aid up two notches.
What can I help you with?
Turn my left hearing aid down one notch.
What can I he…
Hey Chambers WTF is wrong with you? What are you doing?
Telling my phone to adjust my hearing aids.
Don’t you have an app for that? How bout you go in some other room till you’re done?
I’m not that familiar with Siri but have a bit of experience with Alexa, Cortana, Google Home, and third-party apps that interface with IoT devices. One nice feature that an ambient assistant can offer that the apps don’t do yet is potentially voice control - no need to look for your phone and start tapping an app - but the HA apps would have to allow for interfacing with one or more ambient assistants like Siri or Google Assistant. I guess your example of a humorous conversation with Siri recognizes that.
But one even more useful feature beyond simple voice control is grouping commands or devices - sort of a meta control. For example, you can have a whole bunch of devices from different manufacturers in a room and issue a command like “set my living room lights to ‘party time!’” So presumably with a good interface to an HA app with Siri (or similar voice control), you might be able to execute multiple changes in your HA app (like switching to a music program, using the ‘lots of bass’ equalizer setting, and cranking up the volume at the same time all with just one voice command). The main trouble with voice control is if you have it on all the time, it burns lots of battery - that’s supposedly why Microsoft Surface Headphones have a dismal battery life compared to Bose QC35 II’s and Sony 1000mx3’s as Cortana is always on all the time when BT is enabled and there is no way to turn it off…
When we go out, we want to turn on our front entrance lights not to trip on the steps going down at night and we want to have our garage lights on at the very least not to encounter a skunk or raccoon at the back of our house at night. But when we drive away, we don’t want to leave the lights burning (save both our own electric bill and the environment at the same time and also not advertise that we’re away because a lot of outside lights are burning away and revealing my car is gone out of the back of our driveway). So we have the option to tell Alexa or Cortana through the TP-Link app: “Turn on (ALL) the outdoor lights” or “Turn on the garage lights” or “Turn on the front porch lights.” So these sorts of “macros” might not be useful for everyone but automation is creeping into some very small devices. It’s not always handy to have a screen and keyboard to interface to these small devices but a voice command turned into a computer instruction via a server (or maybe an app) can work just fine via a Wi-Fi connection. If I’m at the front door, 30 or 40 feet away from my Echo Dot in the kitchen, I can say in a raised voice, “Alexa, turn on the outdoor lights” and Bingo!, without reaching for my phone, or going into the garage to turn on the lights outside the garage, then hitting the switch by the front door, all the lights we want go on with one simple voice command. As we drive away, my wife turns off whatever lights are on with her phone (she’s not into using Siri to do that, unfortunately). And she’ll turn on the same lights again as we enter the cul-de-sac coming home. And (when I remember!), on entering the house, I’ll turn them all off by saying “Alexa, turn off the outdoor lights.” No need to go into the garage to throw the garage light switch the other way.
The scary thing to me is all the new devices constantly burning electricity 24x7 just so their wi-fi can always be on waiting for an infrequent command and how they all become disabled when your Internet connection goes out. Also, in my experience, the first thing to go out with a Wi-Fi device is the wi-fi transmitter/receiver, e.g., on routers, so I can hardly wait until our various Wi-Fi devices die and need to be replaced!
I don’t know if voice control for HA’s is really worth it. It may just be a nuisance. But I know it can be marvelous for devices around the house. We don’t have to enter and leave our house through the garage door just so we can have the garage lights on by the side/back of our house. And we can see stuff around the house through our Ring Video doorbells, interrogate and change settings for upstairs/downstairs thermostats without running to the thermostat, control dehumidifiers that we got to deal with condensation problems caused by our roofer replacing insulated skylight frames with uninsulated ones that still need to be replaced, etc.
I think it would be great just to be able to issue general knowledge queries to an ambient assistant and hear the answer in my HA’s, rather than having to have ambient AI speakers, etc., all around the house. Maybe I want the answer to a question when I’m out in the yard and don’t want to have to reach for my phone - e.g., control a podcast/music playlist streamed to over-the-ear noise-cancelling headphones while working in the yard with dirty hands, not wanting to grime up the phone, etc.
Not trying to knock your feelings at all. Appreciate different folks feel differently. Just want to show that there are ambient AI “nuts” like me on the loose in the world!
One example of a potentially useful meta command for HA’s and devices in the room (don’t know if it could be done for sure) is: “Watch ESPN on TV”
The single command might:
- Turn on the TV
- Turn on your Roku (for example), and switch to the Sling TV app on a Roku (and throw an HDMI switch if necessary to do this)
- Turn on/switch to the TV streamer hooked up to the TV
- Turn on an amplifier and 7:1 speaker sound system, including the separate subwoofer
- Switch your HA’s to the TV streamer program and the settings (volume, equalizer, or whatever) that you’ve found work best for using the TV streamer with the ESPN channel in the Sling app on your Roku
So just one simple voice command might do a whole bunch of things that you’d otherwise have to do by throwing a bunch of switches, grabbing a bunch of remotes, or switching between devices in a remote app on your phone, etc., etc.
The above sort of thing would avoid leaving a whole lot of devices on 24x7 when you only use them a few hours a day and thus would avoid superfluous contributions to global warming and environment pollution, especially when you wear out devices before their time, contributing to landfill, etc.
Add long as you can do it from another room.
The best smart home devices actually use a radio mesh network standard called z-wave plus. It is designed for distance and reducing battery drain for battery operated devices. It also does not use the crowded radio network of the Wi-FI Zigbee and Bluetooth devices.
Don’t you have to buy into a “system” then and have a hub on the z-wave stuff? Like going with all Samsung Smart Things. Except for my HA’s and my phone, none of the devices that I use are battery-powered. They all consume AC or DC and are hard-wired (Ring doorbell, Honeywell thermostats, TP-Link light switches) or plugged in (Frigidaire dehumidifiers). Oops! Forgot to mention that we do have one battery-powered device, a Neato botvac (also Alexa-controllable) but the vacuum motor and bot movement, not Wi-FI, consume most of the juice there. I can appreciate it would be good to use another broadcast standard that avoids 2.4 GHz congestion and is easy on battery-powered devices. But by just going with things that work over Wi-Fi and don’t have to talk to a specific type of hub, I have more freedom in mixing and matching “smart” things that I just add to my Wi-Fi network. We have an excellent Linksys router whose Wi-Fi signal, though, is strong enough to reach all parts of our house and pretty far out into our yard but we’re ready to adopt mesh networks, Wi-Fi or otherwise, whenever it dies. The Ring Video doorbell, since it has high-bandwith consumption uploading real-time 1080p video to Ring servers, is alone on the router’s 5 GHz A channel. Everything else is on the N channel (2.4 GHz) and so far, everything is still pretty responsive.
On the HA’s themselves and talking to Alexa and Siri, etc., until phones use something other than Wi-Fi and BT (and cellular data), I think one is stuck with whatever the shortcomings/advantages are of those communication protocols in controlling devices and getting feedback in your ears through an ambient AI assistant.
For me, too, going with Wi-Fi devices is the safe alternative for now. Some of the smart things communication protocols are probably going to end up being the Betamaxes of the Internet of Things and when your hub dies down the line for whatever turns out to be a Betamax smart things protocol, you will be SOL getting your devices to communicate over the Internet with your phone/computer, etc. (because everyone will switch to the winning protocol, etc). But I’m all for new-fangled improvements so I think better new ideas to replace the old are great - be very interesting to see how it all works out.
Actually a bit off-topic here but you might not have to send me to another room if I could watch my ESPN via a mixed-reality type of headset that let me think that I was watching a wall-sized 4K (or even better, 8K!) screen and I could hear the sound through my HA’s (or I guess if I opted for dimensional sound from “speakers” distributed around the headband, other folks in the room would be hearing the noise).
We BTE (RIC/RITE) HA wearers have a little problem, though. The other day I was killing time while my wife and daughter were shopping at a mall. Went into the Microsoft Store there and noticed that they had a working HoloLens on display, which presumably has a headband similar to other VR/AR headsets. The dang thing is so expensive, they won’t let you try it on by yourself. It has to be fitted and watched over while you wear it by a Microsoft specialist in the store. The guy assigned to me could not get it firmly positioned onto my head without asking me to remove my glasses and I kinda sensed that having to remove the HA’s was going to be next - so I bailed out of the demo. I jokingly told him that I wanted him to send feedback to Microsoft that they needed to worry about “accessibility” and make one that disadvantaged "handicapped’ HA wearers like me could easily don without worrying about displacing glasses and HA’s (don’t mean to make fun of people with serious handicaps - mean to spoof myself as deserving special consideration). The guy laughed and said that might be a useful thought.
But rather than tell Siri or whoever just to shuffle your audio playlist, it would be great to tell your ambient AI help what video/film/image you wanted to see on VR/AR glasses and have any sound play in your HA’s or to your HA’s through speakers distributed around the headband.
Purple micro dots a cheaper.
AI and Noise Control/Listening Enhancement:
There is also some speculation on the Internet that the following technology trumpeted at CES 2019 for Jabra headsets (Jabra is a subsidiary of GN) is also going to show up in ReSound HA’s sooner or later. ReSound in early 2018 bought a minority stake in audEEring, the company behind the AI noise recognition/cancellation technology. The AI is supposed to recognize the type of noise and the type of suppression/augmentation of noise/speech/listening you’d want depending on your environment (maybe just more “sounds good” whitepaper stuff?).
GN Hearing launches AI hearing solution integrated with Apple’s Siri
Wow!!! How stupid it is! You stay in crowd or at busy traffic street, hold your iPhone accurately near from your mouth, and you shout “Hey Siri! Switch my hearing aids to speech in noise program! Oh no, not music program, please! These sounds killing me! Speech in noise, please!”. What prevents you from slowly raising your hand, aligning your finger with HA button ad pressing it? Or switching programs with remote control?
So I can see it is a crisis in hearing aids industry. No any ways to move forward. No speech in noise or crowd problem solution. But biometric sensors, fall detection, AI with voice commands, GPS, TV antenna, built-in color music should be bait for the buyer. My opinion is that hearing aids are audio devices - so please no biometric sensors and other garbage, but speech in noise solution and longer battery life.
Maybe in spite of a LOT of trying there is no speech-in-noise solution or longer battery life any time soon. There are lots of folks besides the HA industry that would be interested in answers to these problems - the world does not turn on the HA industry but the military, the phone industry, the headphone industry, the auto industry (for longer-lived rechargeable batteries) etc., would all love to have answers, too, and probably have far more economic clout in pushing for answers to said problems.
OTH, there is an ambient AI revolution that is based on AUDIO. Most of the interesting new stuff in CES 2019 (which overall folks generally say is a waste of time) has to do with ambient AI devices and their AUDIO interfaces. So, since hearing-impaired folks need to use their HA’s to hear stuff from any device, including ambient AI devices, maybe it’s just a lot easier to explore and improve the interface here between HA’s and ambient AI devices. That doesn’t mean that the other stuff is being neglected one bit. Maybe it’s just in spite of a lot of trying by many different sectors of industry and technology nobody has come up with the answers you want.
Also, if you read about speech-in-noise, all the most advanced solutions claim to apply AI to analyze the noise and apply the best noise cancellation strategy in response, e.g., if a HA sensor comes up with a new noise environment it’s never quite encountered before, how does it know what sort of noise cancellation to apply? That’s presumably where the AI comes in - also to figure out how to factor in the listener’s previous preferences to the type of noise cancellation/filtering applied, learn from a user’s previous manual changes what changes best to apply to automatically generated AI changes (Widex does this already).
Posts in other threads have discussed what a serious problem falls and monitoring behavior and whereabouts are for the very elderly. If elderly tend to wear HA’s and you have a very elderly loved one who is having problems in these areas, you might want biometric features for their HA’s, fall detection, GPS (to detect that a person has wandered off or find their lost HA’s), etc. I’ve been up in trees and on roofs and working with dangerous power tools around my house, e.g., sawzall, chain saw, nail gun, etc. I usually take my phone out in the yard with me, hoping if I somehow injure myself by a fall or a misadventure with a chain saw, I’ll still be able to call the wife back at the house or 911 for help. So something in my ear or on my wrist that could alert folks that my vital signs are flagging is of interest to me. Just as with phone features, a smart HA OEM would/should offer the user the option to turn off features that you won’t want to use to save unnecessary battery use.
Also mentioned in another thread is the comparison of HA evolution to what happened in the phone industry, transitioning between flip phones and smart phones. HA OEM’s who do a poor job of implementing new technology will probably pay a severe price but on the OTH, HA manufacturers who stick with “flip phone” generation HA technology (analog HA’s, anyone?), will probably suffer the same fate as the phone industry flip phone kings (anyone remember Motorola riding high with the Razr!).
And if someone does come up with a battery that is 10x better, a much better battery is probably just going to drive even more technology add-ons for HA’s.
Most devices work with several different hubs. The manufacturers are afraid to limit it too much because the competition will add one more “works with…”.
Alexa has “Routines” and you can include several steps to complete in the routine that you set up in the app. For example, and this is my limited understanding and I may not know all the limitations, you could set up several steps to turn some lights on and some lights off and name the routine “evening lights”. Then say Alexa, evening lights.
Actually I am using SmartThings without their hub to integrate with Alexa to control a Wi-Fi Amazon Smart Plug.
The SmartThings hub actually supports both the Zigbee & Z-wave standards.
Other that device standardization, by big beef is most systems lock you into depending on their Cloud service to function. No Internet connection means no smart home.
There are some hubs that process locally. SmartThings is starting to do that with some devices. It makes little sense that the hub needs to be dependent on the Cloud when all devices are local.
I think this is where this voice assistant tech is aimed, not specifically at those seniors who need HAs, but their children who are adopting voice assistants hook, line, and sinker.
Those of us in this forum are much more tech capable than much of the geriatric population. I live in a 62+ senior community and know from first hand experience that most here are technology illiterate (I do not mean that to be derogatory). I often have to help others use the microwave in the community room, since they cannot comprehend the digital keypad. The community computers sit idle most of the times I go through there. On the other hand, the pool table, jigsaw puzzles, book library, and television are constantly in use.
What I saw most often at the various audiologists and even Costco while acquiring my HAs, was young family members (son / daughter) herding their elders to the clinics and often making the final choices and paying the bill.
The prodigy often see and drive the need for their parents to get HAs and now they will be more likely to push harder for them to obtain and use HAs with voice control, since many geriatrics don’t like tech, preferring old landlines or flip phones that have familiar buttons, and you just talk to and not have to swipe, poke, zoom, etc. Getting them to talk to their HAs is easier than teaching them to use a smartphone or hearing remote control device. Plus these young offspring can do the initial setup and maintenance of the voice assistants.
I strongly suspect that the manufacturer push to rechargeable batteries has a side eye on this children leading elders to HAs as well, less hassle overall, especially those with dexterity or vision issues.
Here is a good example of seniors first time use of a voice assistant.