Hearing aid technology has come a long way in the last few years, thanks to the computer microchip and digital circuitry. Here are some of the latest innovations.
Why does music from a cd sound more crisp, clear, and distortion-free than music from a record or tape? The answer, at least in part, is the difference between analog and digital sound processing.
Digital hearing aids have one or more microchip processors inside them that convert analog sound waves into the zeros and ones of computer language. Sound in this format can be processed more quickly and more efficiently than analog sound waves; in fact, incoming sounds are sampled at a rate of a million or more times per second. The digital aid’s circuitry analyzes these sound levels and frequencies, manipulating them to provide a more efficient match to an individual’s hearing profile.
For example, a person with hearing loss may have trouble hearing soft sounds, but when some sounds are amplified even a small amount, they become uncomfortably loud. Hearing aids with digital compression circuitry are able to stratify incoming sounds, detect those that need amplification from those that don’t, and process the sound accordingly.
Digitally programmable hearing aids, which are different from fully digital aids in that they’re not equipped to process all incoming sound digitally, offer the very useful benefit of being able to sculpt sound to fit a particular individual’s unique hearing profile, and can be reprogrammed if there are changes in hearing loss. Programmable aids can be set up with multiple channels, enabling you to preset and store several different programs, each sculpted to a particular set of sound environments. You can then select the appropriate program using a button or remote control unit: normal conversation, concert hall, office, or telephone, for example.
Feedback reduction technology
Feedback has long been a problem for hearing aid wearers. Now we know a lot more about feedback, and have developed ways to deal with it. Feedback happens when amplified sound waves escape back out through the ear canal and are then re-amplified by the hearing aid—resulting in the high-pitched squeals that set your teeth on edge. Smaller, in-the-canal styles of hearing aids place components closer to the eardrum, preventing sound waves from escaping, thereby reducing, and often eliminating, feedback. Some new aids are also able to detect these sounds before they become audible and cancel them out, greatly reducing this frustrating problem.
This article courtesy of Starkey
Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) hearing instruments
The receiver, or loudspeaker, in conventional hearing instruments occupies a lot of space. By placing it in the ear canal, Widex has developed one of the smallest, most technically advanced hearing instruments yet created. The Passion™ hearing instrument series is so small and discreet that it seems virtually invisible.
This article courtesy of Widex
Dual Microphone Technology
Sounds often come at us from different directions. This is especially true when you are in a noisy place such as a restaurant, a party, or in a crowd. How could you ensure that you can hear and understand the person talking to you from the front while ignoring the distracting noises that surround you?
Sophisticated hearing instruments offer Dual Microphone Technology. This is where two miniature omnidirectional microphones inside a hearing aid work together to filter out the background noise so the wearer can better focus on sounds that come from the front. Despite its short history, dual microphone technology has advanced dramatically over the last 10 years in that they are more intelligent, more precise in their actions, and more efficacious in improving speech understanding in noise.
Receiver-In-the-Ear (RITE) hearing devices are comfortable because they keep the ear canal open to reduce any plugged-up sensation. The appropriateness of these hearing devices depends on the patient’s degree of hearing loss. Advanced features may include Bluetooth® compatibility.
In-The-Ear (ITE), In-The-Canal (ITC), and Completely-In-The-Canal (CIC) hearing instruments rest inside the ear rather than behind it, with CICs being the most discreet. These styles are appropriate for mild to severe hearing losses and may include features such as directional microphones, multiple listening programs, a tele-coil or Bluetooth® compatibility.
Behind-The-Ear (BTE) instruments are appropriate for hearing losses from mild to profound. Directional microphones, multiple listening programs, tele-coil, and Bluetooth® compatibility are available features. This traditional style is a good choice for pediatric patients and individuals with excessive moisture and accumulative cerumen (earwax).