Hearing aids have been around for decades, and they’ve been improving over that time. With exciting new breakthroughs in conducting metals, wireless communications, and smartphone connectivity, the potential for sound-assistance technology skyrockets. Here are a few examples of how might be getting even better in the near future.
While hearings aids can be extremely functional, they unfortunately still need to be recharged regularly. And while some have a working duration of several hours to several days at a time, we can all relate to the maintenance stress. Having to take them out and plug them in, sometimes overnight, but at least for several hours, might sometimes interrupt social functions. Most of the cause of shorter battery life is that even a lithium ion rechargeable battery has limited space to fit in the ear canal, and can produce a lot of heat. This is why some hearing aids are external, taking advantage of the extra space to create a more efficient design.
Enter graphene – an element whose physical and electromagnetic properties make it a plausible room-temperature superconductor. This breakthrough development would not only allow extremely precise hearing aid sensors but would also permit the device to operate for a much longer period of time. Not only that, the battery would be smaller, and the recharge would take only a few seconds. As improvements continue to be made with graphene, look forward to a smart innovation that improves the tech in this way.
Along the same lines, as we are able to expand the battery power and usage time of our hearing aids, the more features we can add. One such feature, Bluetooth wireless, would allow it communicate and transmit information from other devices. In fact, it could act as an external relay between you and a number of devices.
For example, if one were partially or completely blind, it could communicate with a camera being worn by an individual. Using image recognition technology, this could tell the person what was before them without the need for additional help. Even more, with the prevalence of digital media like movies, the device could sync up for entertainment purposes. Imagine going to the movies where your aid would communicate with the theater’s speakers, ensuring you got a customized, comfortable sound input.
And speaking of connection, the possibilities really open up when hearing aids are paired with smartphones. The quickest and most practical application of this technology would allow the user to make adjustments to their calibration on the fly. Even more, they could act as a reminder, with notification sounds being routed through them. If your elderly loved one needed a simple reminder to ensure they didn’t miss a batch of life-saving pills, this would be a great solution. And of course, no longer would they have to worry about mishearing you on the phone. The possibilities are endless for this developing technology, and we should all look forward to a bright future for corrective hearing technologies.