Flexibility and versatility are two mainstays of digital hearing aids, thanks to the advent of innovative wireless technology and microelectronics. You may not think so, but digital hearing aids have only been around for about 15 years. Before that, analog hearing aids were at the top of the heap. It seems we’ve come very far since the early 1800s when ear trumpets came out. Advancements have come fast one after another, progressing from analog to digital in the present day. While some are available with remote controls that allow the user to adjust various settings, others come with omni-directional microphones to detect sound from multiple directions. Now, each device can be programmed according to user preference and hearing loss degrees. Analog hearing aids used to be all the rage before digital. Let’s take a look at the progression of digital aids.
Digital Noise Reduction (DNR)
Fortunately, digital noise reduction DNR technology addresses the physical characteristics of noise and speech rather than the separation of space. DNR came about after directional microphones, which helped but didn’t address certain traits within speech modulation.
Single Sided Deafness
CROS devices and bone conduction devices now make it easier for the hearing aid wearer to receive signals from the bad ear and send them to the good ear for ease of use. Before, people suffering from single-sided deafness only had one option before: listen with their good ear. This became increasingly difficult in crowds and other situations with lots of background noise.
Featuring self-learning or regulating tendencies, so-called smart hearing aids can adjust settings like volume automatically after a period of time as far as user preferences go, allowing the wearer to be in control.
The First Digital Hearing Aids
The initial digital hearing aids were great for boosting processing speeds which improved the ability to hear. Range of amplification was also greatly improved. The first digital hearing aids featured DSP for digital noise reduction, technically standing for digital signal processing. 1996 was the first year that saw this advancement.
You may realize that modern hearing aids can easily filter out that noise so that the user can hear words but not all the other stuff. Well, improvements in wireless technology have allowed for improved speech recognition and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Many user formerly complained of hearing aids that make it hard 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. Many manufacturers now incorporate new technology through the use of digital magnetic wireless communication.
The future is certainly opened up for the use of digital hearing aids. For ideal ease of use and flexibility, hearing impaired individuals can count on digital hearing aids to take advantage of innovative wireless technology and microelectronics to propel to more sophisticated abilities.