Top 6 Hearing Aid Features Explained

In the past ten years, cellular devices have gone from portable telephones that could store messages and grainy photos to incredibly sophisticated supercomputers capable of more than we ever imagined. While most people have adapted to this rapid growth in technology, many are still living in the past when it comes to their misconceptions about hearing aids.

Picture a hearing aid. Do you see a clunky, banana-shaped device that whistles, pops, and distorts the sound of your voice? If so, you may want to read on to learn about some of the incredible new features of today’s smart hearing aids.

The hearing aids of the past were certainly advanced for their time, but their overall ability to enhance hearing seems primitive compared to what is available on the market today. Much like your smartphone, hearing aid technology has also evolved dramatically in the past few years alone. This article will mainly address the technical aspects of hearing aids, though it should be noted that today’s units are smaller and more user-friendly than ever. Smaller circuitry and internal parts allow for these devices to fit comfortably and discreetly in the ear for maximum comfort, communicating wirelessly with audio sources without the need for a bulky listening device.

To help you better understand how a hearing aid could treat your hearing loss, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten features you may not have realized were available.

Digital noise / feedback reduction

This common feature is responsible for providing the crisp, natural listening experience offered by today’s hearing aids. Old hearing aids used to simply amplify nearby sounds using analog technology, but today’s microphones convert incoming sound to a digital signal before delivering it to your ear. By filtering out background noise from the environment and speech, you will be able to enjoy the rich sounds of nature and prevent communication issues.

Directional microphones

Thanks to this feature, conversations are a breeze no matter your listening environment. Rather than simply picking up all the acoustics in a space, the most current hearing aids are built with special microphones that home in on the sounds coming from where your attention is directed. For example, someone sitting in a crowded restaurant can tune out the chatter of their neighbors and isolate the sound of the person talking directly across from them. This is especially helpful for those who often need to ask for clarification because of their hearing loss.

Multiple channels

For musicians, the shape of a room greatly determines how their music will sound when performed. The acoustics of any space can make it easier or more difficult to understand speech and environmental sounds, as large resonant areas tend to absorb and muffle sound. Those with hearing loss may be familiar with this phenomenon if they tend to hear better in some rooms rather than others. For this reason, hearing aids now feature multiple channels that allow the wearer to customize their equalizer for peak listening quality and save these settings for later. Rather than having to adjust your hearing aids in public, simply return to the appropriate channel and let your hearing aids automatically adjust and clear up the noise.

Bluetooth® streaming & Telecoil/T-switch

To provide the most accessible and hands-off experience possible, today’s hearing aids allow wearers to connect to countless audio sources with the push of a button. Simply pair your hearing aids with a smartphone, laptop, television, or other device using built-in Bluetooth technology and have high-quality audio from phone calls, movies, and more streamed directly into your ear. For when you’re on the go, there is also the convenient Telecoil/T-switch feature that allows you to connect to a hearing loop installed in places such as concert halls, places of worship, sporting arenas, and more. For a list of locations in the U.S. that offer hearing loops Assistive Listening Devices, please visit http://www.aldlocator.com.

Binaural processing

If you close one eye long enough, you will notice your depth perception begin to weaken. Using both eyes allows us to see our world clearly in 3-dimensions, while using both ears allows us to also hear the fullness of our surroundings. When a hearing loss patient is fitted with two hearing aids, the binaural processing feature allows both devices to communicate with each other and synchronize their settings. In an area where wind is blowing only into one ear, for example, both hearing aids will compensate by mirroring the clearer audio signal to the other unit, avoiding miscommunications and delays.

Automatic programming

While automatic programming is only available on higher-end hearing aids, it is one of the most impressive features on the market. This function allows a hearing aid to analyze the acoustic features of a listening environment and make automatic adjustments in order to eliminate background noise and provide crystal-clear sound. With the help of artificial intelligence technology, this feature learns your listening habits and lifestyle over time and adjusts accordingly so you can spend less time worrying about your hearing aids and more time enjoying your newly restored hearing.

Talk to a hearing care professional about your options

Hopefully this information has helped you rethink some of your assumptions about what hearing aid technology can do for you. If you have not yet been diagnosed with hearing loss or would like to schedule a fitting, use our online locator to schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to see which options are right for you.