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

When was the last time you utilized that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t have one? Because that technology is centuries old. Okay, I suppose that seems logical. Ear trumpets are a bit… archaic.

The modern(ish) hearing aid, as it happens, was engineered in the 1950s–the basic shape, that is. And somehow, that’s the hearing aid which has become identified in our collective consciousness. The problem is that a hearing aid built in the 1950s is just about as antiquated as an ear trumpet. We need to really expand our thinking if we want to recognize how much more advanced modern hearing aids are.

Hearing Aids, Then And Now

It’s useful to have some context about where hearing aids started so that you can better understand how sophisticated they have become. As far back as the 1500s, it’s possible to come across some type of hearing aid (whether any of them ever really helped you hear better is still up for debate).

The “ear trumpet” was perhaps the first partially effective hearing assistance apparatus. This construct was shaped like, well, a long trumpet. The wide end faced the world and the small end was put into your ear. At present, you wouldn’t think of this device as high tech, but back then they actually give some assistance.

The real innovation came once electricity was invited to the party. In the 1950s the hearing aid as we know it was created. In order to do their job, they used large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a rather rudimentary design. But a hearing aid that could be conveniently 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 conceivable 70 years ago.

Hearing Aid’s Modern Capabilities

Bottom line, modern hearing aids are technological wonders. And they keep making improvements. In several significant ways, modern hearing aids have been utilizing the digital technology of the later twentieth century. The first, and the most essential way, is simple: power. Earlier versions contained batteries that had less power in a bigger space than their current counterparts.

And with that increased power comes a long list of innovative developments:

  • Health monitoring: Advanced Health monitoring software is also incorporated into modern hearing aid options. if you have a fall, for example, some hearing aids can recognize that. There are other features that can notify you about your fitness goals like how many steps that you’ve taken.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids are normally constructed out of high tech materials, so they feel more comfortable. These new materials permit hearing aids to be lighter and more heavy-duty simultaneously. It’s easy to see how hearing aids have improved on the outside as well as the inside by adding long lasting and rechargeable batteries.
  • Speech recognition: The ultimate goal, for many hearing aid users, is to assist in communication. Separating and amplifying voices, then, is a primary function of the software of many hearing aids–from a packed restaurant to an echo-y board room, this feature is useful in many circumstances.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Modern hearing aids are now able to communicate with all of your Bluetooth devices. You will use this feature on a daily basis. For example, hearing aids used to have a hard time dealing with phone calls because users would hear considerable (and sometimes uncomfortable) feedback. With modern hearing aids, you can simply connect to your cellphone via Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. This applies to a wide range of other situations involving electronic devices. Because there isn’t any feedback or interference, it’s easier to watch TV, listen to music–you name it.
  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss commonly occurs as loss of specific frequencies and wavelengths of sound. Maybe you have a more difficult time hearing high-frequency sounds (or vice versa). Contemporary hearing aids can be programmed to amplify only those sounds that you can’t hear so well, producing a much more efficient hearing aid.

Just like rotary phones no longer exemplify long-distance communication, older hearing aids no longer capture what these devices are. Hearing aids aren’t what they used to be. And that’s a positive thing–because now they’re even better.

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