When was the last time you utilized that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t use one? Because that technology is hundreds of years old. Okay, I suppose that seems logical. Ear trumpets are a bit… antiquated.
The fundamental shape of the modern hearing aid was developed in the 1950s. And that old model hearing aid is generally the one we remember and think of. The problem is that a hearing aid made in the 1950s is just about as antiquated as a hearing trumpet. To comprehend just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unleash our imaginations.
The History of Hearing Aids
To be able to better recognize just how advanced hearing aids have become, it’s helpful to have some perspective about where they started. If we follow the history back far enough, you can most likely find some type of hearing assistance device as far back as the 1500s (whether any of them ever really helped you improve your hearing is probably unlikely).
The first somewhat effective hearing assistance apparatus was probably the ear trumpet. This device was shaped like, well, a long trumpet. The wide end pointed out and the small end was put inside your ear. These, um, devices weren’t exactly high tech, but they did offer some measurable assistance.
When electricity was introduced, hearing aids went through a significant revolution. In the 1950s the hearing aid that we are all familiar with was developed. In order to perform their function, they made use of large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a rather basic design. But these devices represent the beginning of a hearing aid that could be easily worn and hidden. Of course, modern hearing aids may share the same shape and mission as those early 1950s designs–but their functionality goes light years beyond what was conceivable 70 years ago.
Modern Capabilities of Hearing Aids
Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it plainly. And they continue making improvements. Since the late twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been making use of digital technologies in a few powerful ways. The first, and the most important way, is simple: power. Earlier models contained batteries that had less power in a bigger space than their modern counterparts.
And a long list of cutting-edge advances come with greater power:
- Bluetooth connectivity: Modern hearing aids can now connect to all of your Bluetooth devices. You will use this function on a daily basis. Older hearing aids, for instance, would have aggravating feedback when you would attempt to talk on the telephone. 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 scenarios involving electronic devices. This means quick, feedback free connection to your music, TV, etc.
- Health monitoring: Advanced Health monitoring software is also incorporated into modern hearing aid options. if you fall, for instance, some hearing aids can detect that. There are other features that can inform you about your fitness goals such as how many steps that you’ve taken.
- Construction: Modern hearing aids are typically constructed out of advanced materials, so they feel more comfortable. These new materials permit hearing aids to be lighter and more heavy-duty simultaneously. And with the addition of long-lasting, rechargeable batteries, it’s easy to see how not just the inside–but the outside–of hearing aids have advanced over the years.
- Speech recognition: For lots of hearing aid owners, the supreme goal of these devices is to enable communication. Isolating and boosting voices, then, is a principal feature of the software of many hearing aids–from a crowded restaurant to an echo-y meeting hall, this feature comes in handy in many situations.
- Selective amplification: Hearing loss does not manifest across all wavelengths and frequencies equally. Perhaps you have a harder time hearing high-frequency sounds (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids can be programmed to amplify only those sounds that you can’t hear very well, producing a much more effective hearing aid.
Just as rotary phones no longer represent long-distance communication, the hearing aids of old no longer represent what these devices are. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And that’s a good thing–because now they’re even better.