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Woman wearing hearing aids climbing hill with family and laughing at a joke.

Have you used your ear trumpet lately? No? You don’t use one? Because that technology is hundreds of years old. Okay, I suppose that seems logical. Ear trumpets are a bit… archaic.

The basic shape of the modern hearing aid was developed in the 1950s. And that old model hearing aid is generally the one we remember and envision. But visualizing a hearing aid like this isn’t realistic because those old hearing aids are antiquated technology. We need to really expand our thinking if we want to get an accurate picture of how how much better modern hearing aids are.

The History of Hearing Aids

It’s useful to have some context concerning where hearing aids began to be able to better understand how advanced they have become. As far back as the 1500s, it’s possible to come across some type of hearing aid (whether any of them ever actually helped you hear better is probably unlikely).

The “ear trumpet” was perhaps the first marginally effective hearing assistance approach. This device looked like an elongated horn. You would place the small end into your ear so that the wide end faced out. Nowadays, you wouldn’t consider this device 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 essentially created in the 1950s. They were rather rudimentary, relying on transistors and large, primitive batteries to get the job done. But these gadgets signify the beginning of a hearing aid that could easily be worn and hidden. The hearing aids of the 1950s might have looked comparable to modern hearing aids but the technology and functionality is worlds apart.

Hearing Aid’s Modern Capabilities

Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it bluntly. And they’re constantly improving. Since the later years of the twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been benefiting from digital technologies in a few significant ways. The first, and the most important way, is simple: power. Earlier versions had batteries which had less power in a larger space than their modern counterparts.

And a number of innovative developments come with increased power:

  • Speech recognition: The ultimate objective, for many hearing aid users, is to assist in communication. Separating and boosting voices, then, is a principal function of the software of many hearing aids–which can be quite helpful in a wide range of situations, from a packed restaurant to an echo-y meeting room.
  • Health monitoring: Contemporary hearing aids are also able to incorporate sophisticated health monitoring software into their settings. For example, some hearing aids can recognize whether you’ve had a fall. Other features can count your steps or give you exercise support.
  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss normally manifests as loss of specific wavelengths and frequencies of sound. Perhaps you have a harder time hearing high-frequency noises (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids are a lot more effective because they can boost only the frequencies you have a difficult time hearing.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids are normally made of high tech materials, so they feel more comfortable. These new materials permit hearing aids to be lighter and more robust simultaneously. It’s easy to see how hearing aids have advanced on the outside as well as the inside by adding long lasting and rechargeable batteries.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids are now able to connect to other devices via wireless Bluetooth technology. You will use this function every day. As an example, hearing aids in the past had a difficult time dealing with telephone calls because users would hear considerable (and sometimes unpleasant) feedback. With modern hearing aids, you can just connect to your cellphone via Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. You will also use Bluetooth functions to engage in a wide variety of other electronic activities. This means quick, feedback free connection to your TV, music, etc.

Just as rotary phones no longer exemplify long-distance communication, the hearing aids of old no longer represent what these devices are. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And we should be excited because they’re much better than they were.

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