Digital hearing aids are excellent because they are capable of cutting out distracting background noise for a crisper listening experience. While some are available with remote controls that allow the user to adjust various settings, others come with omnidirectional microphones to detect sound from multiple directions. Hearing aids have progressed a lot since the ear trumpets which first came out in the 1800s. Since that time, the advancements have come fast one after another, going from analog to digital in the present day. In fact, most hearing aids made today are digital. Digital hearing aids, which allow audiologists to program each device according to the user’s specific degree of hearing loss, can now be adjusted for volume accordingly.
The First Digital Hearing Aids
Ideal for digital noise reduction, DSPs provided a boost in processing speeds which improved the ability to hear as well as the range of amplification for individuals wearing the hearing aid. The first digital hearing aids, introduced into the medical community, came out initially in 1996. They utilized DSP, which stands for digital signal processing.
With the encroachments of digital hearing aids, users arer able to hook up to Bluetooth and other wireless technological services to expand their ease of use. In addition, those who wear these hearing aids benefit from digital noise reduction and better frequency transposition, as well as increased range.
Digital noise reduction technology goes well beyond that of directional microphones because it is based on the physical characteristics of noise and speech rather than the separation of space, taking into account for modulation in speech patterns.
Single Sided Deafness
Before these big advancements in digital technology, those who suffered from single-sided deafness were forced to contend with greater background noise and were relegated to using their “good ear” to hear what was being said. Now, things like CROS devices and bone conduction devices, the good ear receives signals from the bad ear to improve on amplification.
Many manufacturers are breaking down technology walls with the use of digital magnetic wireless communication via chips in the devices that control settings like switch position and microphone modes. Recent advancements mean hearing aids can actually communicate with each other as in the case of left and right ear instruments. One overriding complaint users of hearing aids have always made is that it’s difficult to hear clearly with all the background noise. Older hearing aids amplified all sound, which was great for hearing words but this also presented an added challenge of filtering out the background noise that was also amplified. Today’s hearing aids can easily filter out that noise so that the user can hear words but not all the other stuff. Improvements in wireless technology have allowed for improved speech recognition and SNR, also known as signal-to-noise ratio.
Today’s hearing aids fortunately come with self-learning or regulating tendencies. These are truly “smart” hearing aids that adjust settings like volume automatically after a period of time according to user preferences. This puts control into the hands of the wearer.
The outlook for digital hearing aids is positive as look toward the future, as the technology will only continue to expand through the years. For improved ease of use and flexibility, hearing impaired individuals can count on digital hearing aids to take advantage of innovative wireless technology and microelectronics to reach more superior levels.