Hearing Aid Technology and Features

Modern hearing aids are so much more advanced now. In addition to common features, they now come with Bluetooth connectivity, recharge ability, Machine Learning, and more.

Guide to Hearing Aid Technology and Features

Hearing aid technology has come a long way in the past decade. New advancements happen so fast that it can be difficult to keep up. Most hearing aid users will purchase a new hearing aid every four to six years, which is a long time for new advancements to be made. If you choose to upgrade to new models right now you will find a lot of new features and technology to consider.

 

Many of the advancements in hearing aids match those we have seen in other technological devices such as computers and phones. Hearing aids now are smart — they are automated, they learn, and they can connect and integrate with other devices.

 

Here’s a quick guide to the latest hearing aid technology and features you will find in new hearing aids. First there are three general technological advancements made that almost all hearing aids now have. Then there are distinct features that you will only find in certain hearing aid models and brands.

Bluetooth Hearing Aids

Bluetooth is a wireless digital technology that allows different devices that are close to each other to connect. This connection lets you exchange data and information, which can be used to do specific things remotely between the devices. 


For example, one common type of Bluetooth device is remote speakers. You can connect your smartphone or music device to the speaker via Bluetooth. This lets you play music that is stored on your phone through the speaker.

How to Bluetooth hearing aids work?

Bluetooth hearing aids work in a similar fashion. It lets you connect your hearing aids to devices like smartphones, music players, computers, and televisions. You can then stream sound directly from those devices to your hearing aids.

 

The benefit of Bluetooth hearing aids is that the sound you stream from other devices is much clearer. When you play sound from a television or phone without streaming, the sound is still coming from farther away.

What can you do with Bluetooth hearing aids?

Here is a quick list of all the different ways you can use Bluetooth-compatible hearing aids:


  • Phone apps

  • Music streaming

  • Television streaming

  • Remote microphone streaming


Rechargeable Hearing Aids
The other big advancement for hearing aids in the past decade has been the rise of rechargeable batteries. Lithium ion technology has led to more powerful and longer lasting batteries that can also be recharged. This means you don’t have to buy new batteries and replace them when the old batteries run out.
How do rechargeable hearing aids work?

With rechargeable hearing aids, you don’t have to open the hearing aids at all to remove old batteries and put in new ones. Here’s how typical hearing aids work that are rechargeable:

  • Plug your charging station into an outlet
  • Set your hearing aids into the charging station
  • You should see some kind of light come on to indicate that they are set properly, and the batteries are being charged
  • When the light colour changes to indicate they are fully charged, you remove them

 

That’s it! Using rechargeable hearing aids is that easy. You can set them into the charging station overnight and have a full charge in the morning to last the day.

What are the benefits of rechargeable hearing aids

For people with dexterity issues, this can be a big help. Non-rechargeable hearing aid batteries can be quite small and a hassle to physically remove and replace. Having rechargeable hearing aids also means you don’t have to worry about buying new batteries.

 

There are always certain situations that can make getting new batteries difficult:

  • When you are travelling
  • When there’s a big snowstorm in the winter
  • When there’s a pandemic that can make it difficult to visit your hearing clinic

 

When you have rechargeable hearing aids, you’re set. You just need your charging station and never have to buy new batteries.

Hearing Aid Apps

Hearing aid manufacturers now offer smartphone apps to control your hearing aid settings. You can download the app on iPhone or Android phones, and they work just like a remote control accessory. 


While there are some differences between the different apps, the general functionality is the same. These apps allow you to perform functions such as the following:


  • Adjust the volume settings

  • Adjust the noise reduction settings

  • Adjust the directional microphone settings

  • Adjust the listening programs and settings

  • Adjust the active connections your hearing aids have to accessories 

  • Have a remote appointment with your hearing care professional

  • Download new programs and updates from your hearing care professional

  • Check the battery life on your hearing aids

  • Locate your hearing aid using GPS so you can find them if you lose them


These hearing aid apps are very useful for people who are younger and new to hearing aids, and enjoy advanced technology. If you use your smartphone  regularly, it is convenient to be able to adjust all the settings for your hearing aids with an app. That way you don’t worry about manually adjusting them, and you don’t need to carry a separate remote control accessory.


There are also phone apps to work with specific hearing aid models and accessories, or to help with specific issues like tinnitus.

Widex Apps

Widex currently offers six different smartphone apps:


  • MOMENT app — for control of WIDEX MOMENT hearing aids

  • EVOKE app — for control of WIDEX EVOKE F2 model hearing aids and the TV PLAY accessory

  • BEYOND app — for control of WIDEX BEYOND hearing aids

  • TONELINK app — for control of all WIDEX EVOKE and MOMENT hearing aids

  • COM-DEX app — for control of the WIDEX COM-DEX accessory

  • Zen app — for tinnitus therapy to prevent flare ups

Signia App

The Signia App is Signia’s all-in-one app solution for people who own Signia hearing aids. Here are some of the some of the features of the app:


  • Signia Assistant

  • Mask mode

  • Remote control

  • Directional hearing

  • Streaming connections

  • Virtual appointments

  • Hearing care chat

The Latest Hearing Aid Technology
The technology for hearing aids has come a long way over the last few decades, and it has only accelerated in the last decade alone. There are a few major advancements to the features available in new hearing aids now that you may not have ever heard about. If you purchased a hearing aid more than five years ago, you may be surprised to learn about these new features and technology.
Artificial Intelligence

In 2018, the WIDEX EVOKE became the world’s first “smart” hearing aid by using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. AI and machine learning technology have been around for decades already. However, this technology is only now usable by hearing aids because it took this long to be able to put that technology into such a small device. 

Here’s a short list of the important bits of information that are relevant to artificial intelligence:


  • Different noise environments — detecting when you are moving from a quiet room, to outside on a windy day, to inside a crowded restaurant, etc.

  • Changes to the hearing aid settings — when you adjust the programs, volume, and other settings of the hearing aids

  • How you use your hearing aids — when you turn them on or off, when you adjust the settings, etc.


Hearing aids with AI are able to automatically adjust the settings for you throughout the day.

Hearing Aids Filter Background Noise

Another very useful advancement for hearing aids is the ability to filter out background noise. This is very useful for situations where there’s a lot of external noise around you, but you’re trying to focus on what someone in front of you is saying. 

 

The rise of digital hearing aids has made this much easier compared to older analog hearing aids. Digital hearing aids are able to process all sounds to then reduce the sounds you don’t want to hear. Hearing aids can be programmed with pre-set programs and audio settings according to common environments.

 

This means you can filter out background noise in a restaurant, or wind when you’re outside. It doesn’t just do this through volume adjustments, it also affects sound frequencies to make it easier to hear speech. 


You can read more about the history and technical elements of background noise filtering here.
Own Voice Processing

One of the main complaints people have when they first start using hearing aids is that they don’t like the sound of their own voice. This is similar to when you hear a voice recording of yourself, and it sounds different from when you hear your own natural voice.


This is because of how voices, including your own, are processed by the hearing aid. You can pick up the subtle differences caused by the digital processing, to the point that it doesn’t quite sound like your voice. 


The way that Own Voice Processing (OVP) technology works is by processing your voice separately from everything else. That way when you hear your voice, it sounds much closer to your normal, natural voice. Signia hearing aids in particular are known for their use of Own Voice Processing.
Faster & Natural Sound Processing

New hearing aids that you can buy today have the ability to process sound faster than ever before. This is helpful for hearing aid users because it sounds more natural. Earlier hearing aids would take time to process sound, which resulted in a delay between when the sound happens and when you actually hear it, which causes the sound to seem distorted and unnatural. 

 

This distortion was common to all hearing aids and is one of the reasons why some people refused to wear them. Now, with the ability to process sound with virtually no delay, the sound you hear through your hearing aids is much clearer and more natural. 

 

The ability to process sound this fast is very new. The WIDEX MOMENT™️, released in Canada in 2020, was the world’s first hearing aid to offer virtually no delay in processing sound. It processes sound between the microphone and receiver in under 0.5 milliseconds.
Summary

The technology and features available in new hearing aids now are completely different from what they were a decade ago. All hearing aids are now completely digital instead of analog. Most hearing aids now come with rechargeable batteries, with the option to buy units with replaceable batteries.

 

Now you can also stream audio from Bluetooth enabled devices directly to your hearing aids, which can help you hear your TV, phone, and music much more clearly, and without having to turn the volume way up. 

 

You also have the ability to control your hearing aids with your smartphone. This can be much more convenient than using another accessory or doing it manually. You can also buy hearing aids that use machine learning to update the settings automatically for you. 

 

Lastly, hearing aids now are much better at making the sounds you want to hear clearer and more natural. They reduce background noise, enhance the sound of your own voice, and process sound faster than ever before.

 

If you want to know more, you can contact us at any time to schedule a free product discussion.

You may also be interested in...

  • Hearing Aid Buying Guide
  • Hearing Aid Brands
  • Hearing Aid Types

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