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Similar to many electronics, hearing aids have experienced significant innovation and are now more advanced than ever. One of the most common misconceptions about hearing aids is that they are big, bulky, and too visible. But advanced technology has produced hearing aids that are smaller and more efficient than they’ve ever been. The wide range of options available today have various features that are designed to create quality user experience. Digital hearing aids use intelligent technology that allow people to navigate environments, activities, and conversations effortlessly.
Analog vs. Digital Hearing Aids
Digital hearing aids were not available until the mid 1990’s (1995/1996) so prior to this innovation, the hearing aids that existed in the market were analog. Analog hearing devices are probably what most people picture when thinking about hearing aids – clunky and all too noticeable. Contributing to the large size of analog hearing aids were the buttons on the device itself. These hearing aids required people to manually change the settings to adjust for the environment they were in. This means that if moving from a quiet environment (for example one’s home) to a setting with greater background noise, people had to change the settings on their hearing aids to adjust for the noise level. This is particularly challenging because it creates an awkwardness or constant reminder of hearing issues.
In stark contrast, digital hearing aids are complex, computer like devices that do not require much from the actual user. Analog hearing aids absorbed and amplified soundwaves, making the soundwaves larger so they can be heard. This differs from digital hearing aids which break down the sound waves (rather than simply amplifying) into units of sound that can be processed more efficiently. This allows them to distinguish background noise from speech which can then be amplified and clearer to hear.
Digital Hearing Aid Features
In addition to processing soundwaves more efficiently, digital hearing aids feature numerous technologies that allow them to be easily used and integrated in a person’s daily life. As our world continues to be shaped by the technology of the time, hearing aids have also changed to seamlessly fit into this digital age. Some features include:
- Automatic Settings: one of the most distinguishing features of digital hearing aids is automated settings. These hearing aids are able to program, remember, and implement settings that have been set by the user. This means that when a person enters a new environment, the hearing aids adjust automatically to their preferred settings for that particular environment. A person does not have to take the time to make manual adjustments and figure this out in each setting they’re in.
- Bluetooth Connectivity: most of us are familiar with Bluetooth technology which allows electronic devices to be synced. Digital hearing aids use this technology to connect to the other devices you may regularly use (smartphone, TV, speaker, computer etc.). This allows you to access and stream audio from the shows, movies, music, phone calls, and podcasts to your hearing aids directly.
- Smartphone Connection: being connected to your smartphone creates access to specific apps that impact your hearing experience. This includes direct pairing to your GPS which allows your hearing aids to adjust to any destinations and specific settings you have programmed.
- Noise Reduction: a prominent feature of digital hearing aids is noise cancellation capability which detects and reduces background noise, allowing people to hear more clearly.
- Voice Recognition: with older models of hearing aids, people often report that the sound of their voice is distorted. Advancements in digital hearing aids can isolate the user’s voice from other sounds, make their voice clearer and natural sounding.
These features have made it possible to navigate all types of environments with greater ease. Digital hearing aids can be specifically programmed and customized to meet the user’s specific hearing needs and lifestyle. This increases one’s ability to hear increase and provides a quality hearing experience.
There are countless benefits of digital hearing aids and an abundance of options. It can be difficult to assess which type you should invest in. We encourage you to consult with a hearing healthcare provider who can help you determine the hearing aids that would work best for you!