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

When was the last time you used that old ear trumpet? 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 modern(ish) hearing aid, as it happens, was engineered during the 1950s–the basic design, that is. And for some reason, that’s the hearing aid which has become established in our collective consciousness. But thinking of a hearing aid like this isn’t realistic because those old hearing aids are out-dated technology. We need to really advance our thinking if we want to recognize how much better modern hearing aids are.

Hearing Aids, Then And Now

So that you can better comprehend just how advanced hearing aids have become, it’s useful to have some perspective about where they started out. As far back as the 1500s, you can come across some form of hearing aid (though, there’s no confirmation that these wooden, ear-shaped artifacts actually worked).

The “ear trumpet” was probably the first marginally useful hearing assistance approach. This device was shaped like, well, a long trumpet. You would put the narrow end in your ear so that the wide end pointed out. These, er, devices were not really high tech, but they did provide some measurable assistance.

Once electricity was introduced, hearing aids experienced a real innovation. In the 1950s the hearing aid as we know it was developed. In order to perform their function, they made use of large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a fairly rudimentary design. But a hearing aid that could be easily worn and hidden started with these devices. Of course, modern hearing aids may share the same form and function as those early 1950s designs–but their functionality goes light years beyond what was possible 70 years ago.

Hearing Aid’s Modern Capabilities

Bottom line, modern hearing aids are technological masterpieces. And they’re always developing. In several significant ways, modern hearing aids have been using the digital technology of the later part of the twentieth century. Power is the first and most important way. Modern hearing aids can pack significantly more power into a much smaller space than their earlier predecessors.

And a long list of cutting-edge developments come with greater power:

  • Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids are now able to connect to other devices via wireless Bluetooth technology. This can be amazingly helpful on a daily basis. Old style hearing aids, for example, would have annoying feedback when you would attempt to talk on the telephone. When you connect to your cellphone via Bluetooth, the transition is simple and communication is easy. You will also utilize Bluetooth functions to engage in a wide variety of other electronic activities. Because there isn’t any interference or feedback, it’s easier to listen to music, watch TV–you name it.
  • Speech recognition: For many hearing aid users, the ultimate objective of these devices is to enable communication. Isolating and amplifying voices, then, is a principal feature of the software of many hearing aids–which can be quite handy in a wide range of scenarios, from a packed restaurant to an echo-y meeting room.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids are normally made of advanced materials, so they feel more comfortable. While these new materials permit hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also allows them to be more heavy-duty. And with the addition of long-lasting, rechargeable batteries, it’s easy to see how not only the inside–but also the outside–of hearing aids have improved over the years.
  • Health monitoring: Modern hearing aids are also capable of incorporating advanced health tracking software into their options. if you have a fall, for instance, some hearing aids can recognize that. There are other features that can inform you about your fitness goals such as how many steps that you’ve taken.
  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss commonly occurs as loss of specific wavelengths and frequencies of sound. Perhaps low frequency sound is hard to hear (or vice versa). Contemporary hearing aids are much more effective because they will amplify only the frequencies you have a difficult time hearing.

Just as rotary phones no longer represent long-distance communication, older hearing aids 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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