Technology and new perceptions of hearing aids

Innovation

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The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported in its Biz & Tech column on how the emergence of headphones and earbuds as stylish, multifunctional and modern accessories is changing the perception of in-ear devices.

According to Simon Carlile, Senior Research Director at the Berkeley laboratory of Starkey Hearing Technologies, hearing aids are known to have a long history of stigma. “It’s a sign that you’re aging ... and none of us want to admit to that,” he said. However, thanks to technology and artificial intelligence, that picture is starting to change.

Consumer-oriented wireless earbuds like Apple’s AirPods and Samsung’s Gear IconX are turning in-ear devices into sought-after, leading-edge consumer products. As people get more used to communicating with voice-activated digital assistants for instance, they will become less resistant to hearing aids, Carlile adds.

The article also highlights the innovation and progress that characterizes the field of audiology. Examples include brain-sensing technologies from Starkey laboratories to enhance a specific person’s voice for the listener, the EarLens device that converts sound to laser light pulses, and the smartphone app named Ava, which translates speech to text in real-time.

With all these changes, and increasing medical research into hardware and software for hearing loss, hearing aids are likely to be more and more common in the future, with a blurred boundary between enhancement and rehabilitation, while the stigma attached to them decreases continually.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

C.S.