Hearing Aids Have Advanced Considerably Since They Were First Invented

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

Have you utilized your ear trumpet lately? No? You don’t use one? Because that technology is hundreds of years old. Okay, I suppose that makes sense. Ear trumpets are a bit… archaic.

The basic shape of the modern hearing aid was designed in the 1950s. And that old style hearing aid tends to be the one we generally remember and envision. But thinking of a hearing aid like this isn’t accurate because those old hearing aids are out-dated technology. To comprehend just how much better modern hearing aids are, we have to unleash our imaginations.

Hearing Aids, Then And Now

To be able to better comprehend just how sophisticated hearing aids have become, it’s useful to have some perspective about where they began. If we trace the history back far enough, you can probably find some form of hearing assistance device as far back as the 1500s (whether any of them ever actually helped you hear better is still up for debate).

The first partially helpful hearing assistance device was most likely the ear trumpet. This construct was shaped like, well, a long trumpet. The wide end pointed out and the narrow end was put inside your ear. Nowadays, you wouldn’t think of this device as high tech, but back then they actually provided some help.

When electricity was introduced, hearing aids experienced a major revolution. The hearing aid that we are familiar with was really developed in the 1950s. They were fairly rudimentary, using transistors and large, primitive batteries to effectively work. But these devices represent the birth of a hearing aid that could easily be worn and concealed. Admittedly, modern hearing aids may share the same form and mission as those early 1950s designs–but their functionality goes light years beyond what was possible 7 decades ago.

Modern Features of Hearing Aids

Put simply, modern hearing aids are technological masterpieces. And they’re constantly improving. In several profound ways, modern hearing aids have been utilizing the digital technology of the later part of the twentieth century. The first, and the most crucial way, is simple: power. Modern hearing aids can store significantly more power into a much smaller space than their earlier forerunners.

And a number of cutting-edge developments come with greater power:

  • Health monitoring: Modern hearing aids are also capable of incorporating advanced health monitoring software into their settings. For example, some hearing aids can detect whether you’ve had a fall. There are other functions that can inform you about your fitness goals like how many steps that you have taken.
  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss does not manifest through all frequencies and wavelengths equally. Maybe low frequency sound is hard to hear (or vice versa). Contemporary hearing aids are much more effective because they are able to amplify only the frequencies you have a difficult time hearing.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids can now connect to other devices via wireless Bluetooth technology. This can be extremely useful every day. As an example, hearing aids in the past had a tough time with telephone calls because users would hear significant (and sometimes uncomfortable) feedback. When you connect to your phone via Bluetooth, the transition is simple and communication is effortless. This applies to a wide range of other scenarios involving electronic devices. This means simple, feedback free connection to your music, TV, etc.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids feel more comfortable because they are made of advanced materials. While these new materials enable hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also allows them to be more robust. 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: For countless hearing aid owners, the biggest goal of these devices is to facilitate communication. Many hearing aids, then, have integrated speech recognition software designed to isolate and amplify voices primarily–from a busy restaurant to an echo-y meeting hall, this feature is useful in many situations.

The old style hearing aids no longer exemplify what hearing aids are, in the same way as rotary phones no longer capture what long distance communication looks like. Hearing aids aren’t what they once were. And that’s a positive thing–because now they’re even better.

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