When was the last time you used that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t have one? Because that technology is hundreds of years old. Okay, I suppose that seems logical. Ear trumpets are a bit… antiquated.
The modern(ish) hearing aid, as it happens, was introduced in the 1950s–the basic shape, that is. And for some reason, that’s the hearing aid which has become established in our collective consciousness. But thinking of a hearing aid in this way isn’t realistic because those old hearing aids are antiquated technology. To comprehend just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unleash our imaginations.
Hearing Aids, Then And Now
It’s worthwhile to have some perspective concerning where hearing aids started in order to better comprehend how sophisticated they have become. As far back as the 1500s, you can come across some type of hearing aid (whether any of them ever really helped you hear better is probably unlikely).
The first partially helpful hearing assistance apparatus was probably the ear trumpet. This device appeared to be an elongated horn. You would place the narrow end into your ear so that the wide end pointed out. At present, you wouldn’t think of this device as high tech, but back then they actually offer some assistance.
When electricity was introduced, hearing aids experienced a real revolution. The hearing aid as we now know it was really created in the 1950s. In order to do their job, they relied on large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a quite rudimentary design. But a hearing aid that could be conveniently worn and hidden started with these devices. The hearing aids of the 1950s may have appeared comparable to modern hearing aids but the technology and functionality is worlds apart.
Modern Capabilities of Hearing Aids
Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it plainly. And they’re always developing. Since the later years of the twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been benefiting from digital technologies in a number of significant ways. The first, and the most important way, is simple: power. Modern hearing aids can store significantly more power into a much smaller space than their earlier predecessors.
And a number of sophisticated advances come with greater power:
- Health monitoring: Modern hearing aids are also able to incorporate advanced health tracking software into their settings. For instance, some hearing aids can recognize when you’ve fallen. Other functions can count your steps or give you exercise encouragement.
- Speech recognition: The biggest objective, for most hearing aid users, is to enable communication. Some hearing aids, then, have integrated speech recognition software developed to isolate and boost voices mainly–from a busy restaurant to an echo-y board room, this feature comes in handy in many situations.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss does not manifest through all wavelengths and frequencies uniformly. Perhaps low frequency noise is hard to hear (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids are much more efficient because they are able to boost only the frequencies you have a hard time hearing.
- Construction: Modern hearing aids feel more comfortable because they are made of high tech materials. These new materials enable hearing aids to be lighter and more robust simultaneously. And by adding long-lasting, rechargeable batteries, it’s easy to see how not just the inside–but also the outside–of hearing aids have advanced over the years.
- Bluetooth connectivity: Contemporary hearing aids can now connect to all of your Bluetooth devices. This can be extremely helpful on a daily basis. Older hearing aids, for example, would have irritating feedback when you would try to talk on the phone. With modern hearing aids, you can just connect to your cellphone using Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. This applies to a wide range of other situations regarding electronic devices. Because there isn’t any interference or feedback, it’s easier to listen to music, watch TV–you name it.
Just like rotary phones no longer exemplify long-distance communication, older hearing aids no longer capture what these devices are. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And that’s a positive thing–because now they’re even better.