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

When was the last time you used that old ear trumpet? No? You don’t use one? Because that technology is hundreds of years old. Okay, I suppose that seems logical. Ear trumpets are a bit… antiquated.

The fundamental shape of the modern hearing aid was developed in the 1950s. And that old style hearing aid tends to be the one we generally remember and think of. The problem is that a hearing aid developed in the 1950s is just about as antiquated as a hearing trumpet. We need to really advance our thinking if we want to recognize how much more advanced modern hearing aids are.

The History of Hearing Aids

It’s useful to have some perspective about where hearing aids began to be able to better perceive how sophisticated they have become. As far back as the 1500s, you can find some type of hearing aid (though, there’s no confirmation that these wooden, ear-shaped items were actually effective).

The first partially helpful hearing assistance device was probably the ear trumpet. This device appeared to be an elongated horn. You would place the narrow end inside your ear so that the wide end pointed out. These, er, devices weren’t exactly high tech, but they did provide some measurable assistance.

The real revolution came once someone invited electricity to the party. In the 1950s the hearing aid that we are all familiar with was developed. In order to perform their function, they made use of large old fashioned style batteries and transistors in a rather rudimentary design. But these gadgets represent the birth of a hearing aid that could easily be worn and concealed. Of course, modern hearing aids may share the same shape and function as those early 1950s designs–but their functionality goes light years beyond what was conceivable 7 decades ago.

Hearing Aid’s Modern Features

Modern hearing aids are a technological masterpieces, to put it bluntly. And they’re constantly developing. In many profound ways, modern hearing aids have been taking advantage of the digital technology of the later twentieth century. Power is the first and most crucial way. Earlier models had batteries which had less power in a larger space than their current counterparts.

And a long list of cutting-edge developments come with increased power:

  • Health monitoring: Modern hearing aids are also capable of incorporating advanced health monitoring software into their settings. if you fall, for instance, some hearing aids can recognize that. Other functions can count your steps or give you exercise encouragement.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Your hearing aids can now communicate with other devices using wireless Bluetooth technology. You will utilize this function every day. Old style hearing aids, for instance, would have annoying feedback when you would try to talk on the phone. With contemporary hearing aids, you can simply connect to your cellphone using Bluetooth connectivity and never miss a call. You will also use Bluetooth functions to take part in a wide range of other electronic activities. This means simple, feedback free connection to your TV, music, etc.
  • Construction: Modern hearing aids feel more comfortable because they are made of advanced materials. While these new materials allow hearing aids to be more comfortable, it also allows them to be more robust. And with the addition of long-lasting, rechargeable batteries, it’s easy to see how not only the inside–but the outside–of hearing aids have improved over the years.
  • Speech recognition: For many hearing aid users, the supreme objective of these devices is to assist in communication. Isolating and boosting voices, then, is a primary feature of the software of many hearing aids–which can be quite useful in a wide variety of situations, from a packed restaurant to an echo-y board room.
  • Selective amplification: Hearing loss does not occur through all wavelengths and frequencies equally. Perhaps you have a more difficult time hearing high-frequency noises (or vice versa). Modern hearing aids are a lot more efficient because they can boost only the frequencies you have a hard time hearing.

The old style hearing aids no longer exemplify what hearing aids are, in the same way as rotary phones no longer illustrate what long distance communication looks like. Hearing aids have changed a lot. And that’s a good thing–because now they’re even better.

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