Hearing aid technology advances every day, but of course, those of us who wear hearing aids wish it would advance even faster. Today’s hearing aids range from simple analog devices to souped-up digital models with T-coils, multiple situational programs, rechargeable batteries and connectivity to smart phones. But the hearing aids of the future will likely offer even more features.
Here is my wish list. Please add your thoughts in the comments.
Programmable By Sound Patterns In Addition To Frequency
Imagine training your hearing aids to recognize and augment certain sound patterns or voices to the exclusion of other noises in that frequency. You could program in your spouse’s voice, or your child’s, or even the voice of your boss at work. This would certainly help me since my husband’s voice is often one of the hardest for me to hear. Not only would this feature lower my listening effort, it would also make it easier on my husband, who must constantly remember to speak louder and clearer than is his norm.
Perhaps this function could be made to work in real-time so if you were at a lecture or meeting someone new, you could quickly program your hearing aids to highlight that person’s voice until you deactivated the feature.
Selective Sound Pattern Cancelling
Alternatively, what if you could select sound patterns to mute or noise-cancel. This would be a dream in a loud restaurant or noisy bar, or in a conference room with a loud air conditioner. Just point and click a wand or your phone microphone at the offending sound, and it would be temporarily muted. While some hearing aids do offer noise-cancelling capabilities, the effectiveness is up for debate. If you could truly mute or noise-cancel unwanted background sounds, imagine how much clearer the voices and sounds you wanted to hear would be.
Battery Alerts Please!
My fitness tracker sends me emails to alert me when my battery is getting low so I am never surprised. What if hearing aids did the same? This would help avoid the hassle of changing batteries on the fly or during an important conversation. Hopefully, batteries will be better in the future as well, or more likely than not, rechargeable.
I know many people who remove their hearing aids at various times during the day to get a break from the ever-present sounds of life. Wouldn’t it be nice to turn the sound off every once in a while without having to remove the aids? My hearing aids have a sleep function which turns off the amplification in an attempt to mimic what I would be hearing without my aids. This provides a break from much of the sound, but keeps me safe through continued access to ambient noise. This could be a welcome feature on all types of hearing aids.
With more than 65% of people with hearing loss under the age of 65 (according to the Better Hearing Institute), a sports ready hearing aid would be very popular. Imagine being able to wear your hearing aids to the gym, at yoga or while running or playing sports without worrying they would be damaged by sweat or an inadvertent swing of a racket. Sport glasses are quite common, and while hearing aids are more delicate given the electronic equipment inside, perhaps the hearing aids of the future will be wrapped in a more durable package.
Did you ever wish you could wear your hearing aids all the time? It sounds crazy, but I really like it. Mine help mask my tinnitus so I wear them as much as humanly possible, even to sleep. Plus, I feel more secure at night knowing that if my children call out to me, I have a better chance of hearing them. Most hearing aids are worn during the day and removed at night. I’m not sure why. Perhaps this will change in the future.
Trackable by GPS
If I can easily locate my misplaced phone through a tracking app, why not my hearing aids? This seems like a simple thing to implement and could help avoid significant financial losses.
Hearing aids are costly, especially the ones with advanced features like cell phone connectivity. As new products enter the market supported by the recent OTC law, this will hopefully change. Innovation certainly will improve with increased competition and more varied approaches to product design and distribution. Audiologists will remain critically important as consumers navigate the wider variety of more affordable and technologically advanced options.
Readers, what features do you imagine for the future?
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