Microphone at concert

Usually, when Artificial Intelligence(AI) is mentioned for most, robots are the first thing that comes to mind. But AI is so intertwined into so many things we regularly use, from Netflix recommending your next “favorite” show to your hearing aids.

That’s right; AI is built into many of today’s hearing aids to create a better user experience. One example is AI is used to tackle hearing aid wearers’ most challenging situations. Engaging in conversation within a loud environment, such as a restaurant or coffee shop. Because simply amplifying the sound isn’t always the best option.

These days AI-powered hearing aids offer much more. Find out what these smart devices are capable of and if hearing aids with this functionality are suitable for you or your loved one.

Audiograph of hearing loss

Defining AI, Machine learning, and Deep neural networks

Artificial intelligence, simply put, is a computer-performing tasks that humans usually accomplish because they require a level of human understanding.

Next up is Machine learning. AI attempts to perform what humans would do, which we call learned tasks, including driving, speaking, and recognizing faces. On the other hand, machine learning concentrates on continuous understanding and constant problem-solving abilities beyond human capabilities – rather than just mimicking them.

One step further is a deep neural network or (DNN). This form of AI is set up to imitate the brain’s neural patterns and strives to answer the same way your brain would, without being explicitly programmed how to react in a given situation. Think Netflix recommending your next show or Spotify offering an “artist you may like.”

What is the benefit of AI and machine learning in hearing aids?

Technology has come a long way—todays’ AI listens to what’s happening in the surroundings, It then responds accordingly. Effectively, a DNN allows hearing aids to begin to imitate how your brain would hear a sound if your hearing weren’t impaired.

For hearing aids to be most effective, they need to adapt to a person’s specific hearing requirements along with an array of background noise environments. AI, machine learning, and neural networks are fantastic techniques to deal with such a complicated, nonlinear, multi-variable type of problem. Because AI learns about how you listen, it makes wearing your hearing aids seamless by making the needed adjustments for you in different types of environments. It allows you to focus less on what your hearing aids are doing and more on what you’re doing, freeing up time and removing the guesswork on settings and adjustments.

Imagine these scenarios that AI in hearing aids make possible:

  • Your hearing aids listen for voices you hear most often (like your spouse) and prioritize them in a busy restaurant.
  • AI in your hearing aids knows that you generally watch TV at night and are ready to connect directly to that sound when you sit down.
  • It learns to detect when someone is speaking through a mask and decides how to amplify the sound in real-time.
Audiograph of hearing loss

3 Futuristicistic AI-powered hearing aids that are changing the game

Starkey Livio AI

The Livio AI from Starkey is changing what hearing aids are capable of. Their new AI “healthable” hearing aid can track your daily steps, measure your movement, and monitor more vigorous activity. It can even detect if a user has fallen and sends an alert message to a contact on your phone.

Starkey has also introduced “mask mode,” which will amplify the sound of the person you’re speaking with if they’re wearing a mask.

In a recent study, Starkey’s Livio AI hearing aids recorded the most exact steps compared to actual physical steps taken, outperforming a Sportline pedometer and a Fitbit Charge 3. Livio AI’s fall detection feature was also tested in the study, during which it detected the majority of engaged falling maneuvers.

Widex with SoundSense

Widex SoundSense Learn, powered by AI, processes information from connected hearing aids worldwide and shares anonymized data with a cloud-based AI system. The system then seamlessly learns how to optimize hearing aid settings in different conditions for specific wearers.
Widex SoundSense Learn presents users with A-B comparisons to understand how a person wearing compatible Widex hearing aids prefers sound in a specific environment. SoundSense Learn manages three acoustic parameters, low, mid, and high frequencies — which can each be set to 13 different levels, resulting in more than 2,000 possible settings.

To A-B test, each setting would demand over 2 million individual tests. However, by using the power of machine-learning algorithms, Widex SoundSense Learn requires about a dozen comparisons to optimize settings for the person. SoundSense Learn algorithms also track the user’s adjustments and pull from other user settings stored in the cloud to better tailor the hearing aids to one’s surroundings.

Oticon More

Oticon More™ is the first hearing aid with an onboard deep neural network. The technology was developed using more than 12 million pounds so that those wearing it can better understand speech and the sounds around them.

This neural network obtains a complex layer of sounds, known as input. First, the DNN begins working, extrapolating simple sound elements and patterns from the information. It builds these elements together to recognize and make sense of what’s happening. Lastly, the hearing aids decide how to balance the sound scene, making sure the output to the user is clear and ideally balanced to the person’s hearing loss.

Do I need AI-powered hearing aids?

Hearing aids exist on a spectrum, ranging at different prices and features. Some patients may not need all the features—people who live a less outgoing lifestyle, who rarely leaves the house, or won’t find themselves in crowded scenarios often, might not benefit from the functionality found in higher-end models.

However, for anyone who’s out and about a lot, especially in situations where there are big soundscapes, AI-powered features allow for an improved hearing experience.

To find out what level of technology suits your lifestyle best, call and set up a consultation with one of our Audiologists at Salem Audiology Clinic. We can help uncover what technology would work best for you based on your specific lifestyle and hearing loss needs.

Call us today at (971) 701-6322