Modern hearing aids are so packed with technology, it is almost hard to believe how they may accommodate further features. The hearing aids’ design has also significantly changed over the years and such that devices look implausibly small. Can technology get better? Recent innovations demonstrated by the leading manufacturers prove that we can expect greater and even more fascinating discoveries in the future.
One of the main challenges faced by hearing aid users is the necessity to clean and remove their devices on a daily basis and during activities, such as showering, swimming, sleeping, etc. Of course, there are many types of hearing aids that cannot be worn differently but when it comes to CIC devices, scientists have tried to design a hearing aid that once fitted can stay in the ear canal for a long period of time. Currently Lyric is the most successful extended wear hearing aid and Phonak claim that its latest edition is able to provide an even better natural hearing experience with the help of the latest technology, packed in just 12mm of length. Depending on the individual characteristics of the wearer, the completely invisible device can stay in their ear canal for several months and the user can still perform effortlessly all of their daily activities. Unfortunately, it is suitable only for users with mild to moderate hearing loss.
As we are living in a mobile world, the integration between smart phones and hearing aids will become more and more important with time. Resound is one of the first major manufacturers to launch a product that can be fully controlled by Apple mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch) - the ReSound LiNX. This is the smallest BTE hearing aid manufactured by the company and they also claim it is one of the smartest ones available on the market. The sound from your Apple device (music, video, calls, etc.) will be streamed directly to your hearing aid, without the necessity to use assistive devices such as headphones. Users will be able to adjust the device and switch through the available programs by installing a mobile application. This demonstrates that hearing aid related mobile applications will become more and more popular, as they enable the users to change their settings without touching or removing the hearing aid, which is both much easier and discreet. Siemens have also achieved great progress in this direction by introducing the Siemens miniTek Remote App suitable for Android phones.
We can also expect that hearing aid manufacturers will continue their research and development of new as well as upgraded current technologies that aim to provide the users with a natural and crystal clear sound even during the most challenging situations. For example, last year Widex introduced their True-Input Technology, dedicated to achieving a more detailed and accurate sound picture and speech understanding and Phonak proudly presented the Binaural VoiceStream Technology™, especially designed for difficult hearing environments.
Original article date 25/5/2011, last update 11/04/2014