Have you ever seen a picture of someone using an ear trumpet? They were very early hearing aids that looked something like a musical instrument from a Dr. Seuss book. The sound was collected by a large opening at the end of a long, often curvy tube that ended in a smaller opening that was placed at the entrance to the ear canal.Now that you know that, here’s a surprise: The essential function of hearing aids hasn’t really changed all that much since ear trumpets first started turning up in the 1600s! Hearing aids still, essentially, gather sound, make it louder, and send it into the ear.
Okay, today’s hearing aids do a lot of other cool things, too. We don’t know of anybody who would trade in a state-of-the-art hearing aid for a four-hundred-year-old ear trumpet. But it is interesting that all we really do today is continue to build on that original idea from so long ago.
Here are some of the high-tech developments that would make those early ear-trumpet users really sit up and take notice!
Direction-seeking microphonesAmong the wonders you’ll find amid the hearing aids your local hearing care provider can show you, you’ll find devices with microphones that can determine where the voice you want to hear is coming from and focus their attention on that voice, disregarding background noise.
Digital sound processingA lot of today’s hearing aids don’t just amplify sound, they literally take it apart, separate out what the user doesn’t need and reassemble it as a clearer, easier-to-understand piece of sound data. For instance, background noise can be reduced and wind noise compensated for.
Selective amplificationYou can get a hearing aid that knows what types of sounds and frequencies you have a hard time hearing. For instance, they will boost the soft, delightful voices of your youngest grandchildren, while leaving the sound of your oldest grandson’s motorcycle at its regular volume.
Binaural functionWith this feature, your hearing aids not only talk to you but to each other, balancing the sound going to each ear for a more natural hearing experience.
No-touch adjustmentsIf not wanting to call attention to the fact that you’re wearing a hearing aid is keeping you from trying them, check out the latest apps for controlling hearing aids from a smartphone. Change your settings without having to remove your hearing aid or fiddling with it, trying to press tiny buttons.
Another great thing about all of this wide-ranging and fast-changing tech is that hearing health providers stay up-to-date on it all. They can make the process of choosing the right hearing aid for you a lot easier than wading through all of the options on your own. A certified hearing care provider will test your hearing, ask you about your lifestyle and recommend a selection of options suited to your unique hearing needs.
As you can tell, we love talking all things hearing and hearing aids! If you have any questions or want to learn more, please contact us right away.