Your hearing aids accompany you every day, whether you’re going to the grocery store or the office. As with most of our electronics, hearing aids are user-friendly and simple to operate. Simply insert them and switch them on – and voila! Clear sound.
But if you stop to think, hearing aids are incredible feats of technology. Hearing aids are small in size, whether worn in your ear or behind your ear, and provide powerful sound. For those of us who have lived for years with hearing loss, hearing aids are miraculous in the access they provide.
Have you ever wondered how hearing aids work? This one is for all the curious cats out there who love to know the ins and outs of hearing aid technology.
All About Hearing Aids
Hearing aids were first developed over a century ago and have appeared in many different iterations. From the table-top devices of yesteryear, hearing aids have evolved into smarter, sleeker, and faster devices. In part, we can thank advancements in digital technology.
Hearing aids are small, electronic devices that receive and amplify sound from your environment and direct this amplified sound into your ears. Most hearing aids these days are digital, which means there is a processing chip (similar to a computer) that analyzes sound data from your environment. Though hearing aids come in many different sizes, shapes, and styles, they share the following general components:
- Microphone: picks up sound;
- Amplifier: makes sound louder;
- Receiver: sends amplified sound into ear.
- Battery: provides energy supply.
In many respects, hearing aids mirror the way our ears work: our outer ear picks up sound, which is then sent through the middle ear, which turns the sound wave into vibrations, which are then sent on to the inner ear to be converted into electric signals delivered to the brain to process as sound. All hearing aids support our ears in this chain of events by amplifying sounds.
Styles and Features of Hearing Aids
Wearer preference and degree of hearing loss determines the style of hearing aid one would use. There are four main styles of hearing aids, named for the way they are worn: in-the-canal, completely-in-canal, in-the-ear, and behind-the-ear.
Whatever the style, all hearing aids offer the same basic features. Directional microphones amplify the sounds you want to hear, while automatic volume controls amplify selective sounds depending on your hearing loss and minimize sounds that are extraneous. Most hearing aids have telecoils, a setting that allows you to connect to induction loop systems via electromagnetic waves, which deliver crisp sound from PA systems directly to your ears.
Most contemporary hearing aids use digital technology to automatically filter and reduce buzzing and whistling. For added convenience, most hearing aids archive your preferred listening settings and make automatic adjustments according to the environment you’re in.
The Future of Hearing Aids
Remember that old animated TV show, The Jetsons? There was a time that we thought it was science-fiction to be able to have a video chat with someone through a screen. But now, that future has arrived! With apps like Skype or FaceTime, we are able to have full video conversations with our loved ones on the other side of the world.
Most hearing aid manufacturers now offer hearing aids that connect directly to your smartphone. With Bluetooth, you may stream your phone calls, video chats, music, and other media directly from your phones or tablets to your hearing aids. This provides immediate access to the sounds you want to hear.
Through this wireless connection, hearing aid wearers also experience ease of use. Now, you can make adjustments on user-friendly platforms, such as an iPhone app (this gives you added discretion – no need to manually adjust your volume anymore!). Some hearing aids even connect directly to the Internet.
Visit Us at Family Hearing Center of Hawaii
If you haven’t seen the latest in hearing aid technology, we bet you’ll be surprised. Today’s hearing aids are aesthetically and functionally different than anything from previous decades. Small and nearly invisible, sleek in design and ultra-fast in processing sound, hearing aids provide incredible access to sound and support people from all walks of life.
To schedule a hearing test or to learn more about the latest in hearing aid technology, contact us today at Family Hearing Center of Hawaii.