Once upon a time, and not that long ago relatively speaking, there was nothing that could be done for the deaf or hard of hearing. Sign language was a major breakthrough in allowing those afflicted to communicate, and it is still an important resource today, but breakthroughs in technology have meant hearing aid wearers can now experience very close to natural hearing.
One of the catalysts for what has been a revolution in hearing aid design and capability was a discovery made in 2009 by Robert Jackler MD, a Professor of Otorhinolaryngology at Stanford University. He realised the ion channels within the ear were actually in a different place to where it was always thought they had been.
This simple discovery meant that hearing devices could be designed to work much better than they had before and, since then, hearing aid technology has moved at remarkable pace.
No longer are hearing aids large, clunky and obvious. They are much smaller and less conspicuous, removing some of the stigma attached to wearing a hearing aid, improving the wearer’s self-confidence and transforming the way they interact with the world.
In-ear hearing aids are almost invisible and can be worn for months on end without the need to remove them. Wearers even shower with them in place! And, if an in-ear solution doesn’t (or can’t) work for you, manufacturers have created incredible discreet aids that are worn outside the ear. Miniaturisation or nanotechnology is integral to how the industry is being revolutionised.
They are also much more comfortable to wear. Computer technology can accurately measure facial dimensions facilitating the manufacture of completely unique, perfectly fitted devices. Noise filters can be integrated into devices helping sounds become crisper and clearer due to an up to 90% reduction in background noise. And WiFi (wireless) and Bluetooth technology means hearing aids can be linked to tablets and smart phones allowing wearers to utilise devices that may once have been obsolete.
We are now even in the age of the ‘smart hearing aid’. Able to adapt to the wearer’s likes and dislikes, these incredible devices provide the best possible – and utterly personal – hearing experience.
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