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

When was the last time you utilized that old ear trumpet? 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… antiquated.

The modern(ish) hearing aid, it turns out, was engineered during the 1950s–the basic shape, that is. And that old model hearing aid is generally the one we remember and picture. But visualizing 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 unshackle our imaginations.

Hearing Aids, Then And Now

It’s useful to have some perspective concerning where hearing aids began in order to better understand how advanced they have become. As far back as the 1500s, you can come across some form of hearing aid (whether any of them ever actually helped you improve your hearing is probably unlikely).

The “ear trumpet” was probably the first partially effective hearing assistance approach. This device looked like an elongated horn. The wide end pointed out and the small end was put inside your ear. At present, you wouldn’t consider this device high tech, but back then they actually offer some assistance.

Once electricity was introduced, hearing aids experienced a real innovation. The hearing aid as we now know it was really developed in the 1950s. They were quite basic, relying on transistors and large, antiquated batteries to effectively work. But these devices represent the beginning of a hearing aid that could easily be worn and hidden. The hearing aids of the 1950s may have appeared similar to modern hearing aids but the technology and capability is worlds apart.

Modern Features of Hearing Aids

Bottom line, modern hearing aids are technological masterpieces. And they keep making improvements. Since the later years of the twentieth century, modern hearing aids have been utilizing digital technologies in several significant ways. Power is the first and most important way. Earlier models had batteries which had less power in a larger space than their modern counterparts.

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

  • Speech recognition: For many hearing aid owners, the biggest objective of these devices is to enable communication. Separating and boosting voices, then, is a principal feature of the software of many hearing aids–from a busy restaurant to an echo-y board room, this feature comes in handy in many scenarios.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids are usually constructed out of high tech materials, so they feel more comfortable. These new materials allow hearing aids to be lighter and more heavy-duty at the same time. And by adding long-lasting, rechargeable batteries, it’s easy to see how not just the inside–but the outside–of hearing aids have improved over the years.
  • Health monitoring: Advanced Health monitoring software is also incorporated into modern hearing aid choices. For example, some hearing aids can recognize whether you’ve fallen. There are others that can notify you about your fitness goals such as how many steps that you have taken.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids are now able to connect to other devices using wireless Bluetooth technology. You will utilize this feature every day. Older hearing aids, for instance, would have annoying feedback when you would try to talk on the phone. When you connect to your phone using Bluetooth, the transition is simple and communicating is effortless. This applies to a wide range of other scenarios involving electronic devices. This means simple, feedback free connection to your TV, music, etc.
  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss doesn’t manifest through all wavelengths and frequencies equally. Maybe you have a more difficult time hearing high-frequency sounds (or vice versa). Contemporary hearing aids are much more efficient because they are able to boost only the frequencies you have a difficult time hearing.

Just like rotary phones no longer represent long-distance communication, the hearing aids of old no longer represent what these devices are. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And we should be excited because they’re a lot better than they used to be.

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