Hearing-device wearers report that assistive technology to contain background noise is still a holy grail and needs industry co-operation, according to an Action on Hearing Loss survey:
- Ninety-six per cent of respondents said hearing in noisy settings is a major challenge.
- Just 12% of hearing aid users and 27% of cochlear implant wearers are satisfied now.
Help From The Hearing-Device Industry
Device makers can innovate by adding smart visual indicators to FM systems, Bluetooth streamers, remote microphones, assistant devices and apps for hearing-devices to suggest noise-management options when device-wearers may not be aware intervention is available.
University researchers may be the solution, with MSU piloting a new hearing-aid to optimise spoken voices in background noise. If this smart hearing-aid works, it will appeal to people who avoid hearing-devices for the very same inability to hear voices amidst ambient sounds.
An innovation in cochlear implants (which may address background noise intrusion) is optical cochlear implants, which use near-infrared lasers to produce a sound effect in an opto-acoustic approach. Issues to address are component size and power supply but various industry research groups are exploring laser use in newer hearing devices.
Redirecting Smartphones As Hearing-Aids
Elsewhere, ongoing moves to turn smartphones into hearing-aids may boost acoustic quality in smartphones – which after all, use similar digital audio technology to hearing-aids:
Several industry initiatives (including SonicCloud) are exploring smartphone use as incidental hearing-aids for people with mild to severe hearing loss who may not want a full hearing-aid.