If you are thinking about upgrading your hearing aid in 2024, here are a few things to look out for.
If your existing hearing aids use a replaceable battery, the chances are that your next set will be rechargeable. Rechargeable technology has been around for a while now, but there have been some limitations to battery life if you use in-the-ear hearing aids or stream music from your mobile phone for several hours each day.
As battery technology improves, these limitations will disappear, so rechargeable hearing aids should be available in all styles of hearing aid very soon.
Better noise reduction
You will already know that a hearing aid is really a miniature computer that you wear behind your ear. And just like all computers the processing power of the latest systems increases every year. What does this mean for the hearing aid wearer?
The improvements in processing mean better noise reduction systems and better directional hearing, which is another way of reducing background noise as well as helping with the localisation of sound.
Some hearing aids already talk to each other where your left and right hearing aid communicate. Already, in many hearing aids, turning the volume up or down on one aid alters both. This type of communication will expand as the technology develops.
For example, if you are driving and you have a passenger on your left, the left-sided hearing aid will focus on the voice of your passenger. The right-sided hearing aid will go into noise reduction mode to eliminate unwanted car and road noise. When you are back on foot the hearing aids will adapt automatically.
Your mobile phone contains a gyroscope, so it knows its orientation in space. It uses this technology to switch on the backlight when you pick it up. Now hearing aids can contain gyroscopes too.
You may wonder how this can be applied to hearing. The answer is that it can be useful for the hearing aids to know whether you are moving or stationary.
If you are stationary, you are most likely looking at the person you are listening to and so the hearing aids will prioritise sounds coming from the front.
When you are walking, the hearing aids will prioritise sounds coming from the side. How does this work when you are travelling in a car? The hearing aids can figure this out too because they can have an accelerometer that can work out how fast you are moving.
If you have been frustrated by trying to use the loop system in public places, theatres, cinemas etc Auracast technology will start to transform this type of listening for hearing aid wears and people without hearing loss alike. You can find out more from our Auracast article here.
Of course, not every new idea gets wide adoption. Hearing aids with step counters and hearing aids that do simultaneous language translation have not really taken off.
But there are plenty of new ideas out there. It is going to be an exciting year as advances from many areas of electronics find their way into the world of hearing.