With so many new technologies available, each day seemingly brings about advancements in hearing health, hearing loss treatment and hearing device technology. At Columbia Hearing Centers, we provide our patients today’s best available hearing care in Spokane. This means we can’t look to yesterday’s treatments and technologies. If you want to learn more about the current news in hearing care, take a look at this information on the interesting, innovative and important developments in digital hearing aid technology.
Digital Hearing Aid Technology
Digital sound processing has truly transformed hearing loss treatment and hearing aid technology in Spokane. Today, it is very rare to find non-digital hearing devices on the market. Digital hearing aids instantly transform sounds into mathematical units using a tiny computer chip, breaking them down into smaller units such as frequency, volume and duration. This precise information allows for many discrete manipulations to occur simultaneously. Thus, digitized sound signals can be endlessly and accurately reshaped without affecting the quality. This allows hearing aids to deliver superior sound by enhancing speech clarity, reducing unwanted background noise and more.
Features and Benefits
Digital hearing aids have led to unprecedented transformations in hearing loss treatment. They have immensely improved patients’ speech audibility, speech comprehension in both quiet and noisy settings, comfort level in environments with excessive background noise and control over unwanted feedback. Digital technology also means features and functions that adjust automatically based on your surroundings as well as cross-platform compatibility between hearing aids, hearing aid accessories and electronic equipment including phones, computers, MP3 players and TVs.
Top Technology to Know
This list is designed to familiarize patients with some of the amazing technology available in digital hearing aids today. However, it’s only a small sampling of what’s available in the world of hearing loss treatment. Talk to your Board Certified hearing instrument specialist at Columbia Hearing Centers if you’re interested in finding out more about the latest technological features and functions and how they can improve your listening abilities and lifestyle.
- Channels: These refer to the smaller units sound is broken into as it’s processed. Hearing devices can divide incoming signals into as few as two or as many as 20 channels, each of which can be adjusted for volume, the amount of noise suppression applied, the amount of speech enhancement supplied and more. This allows sound to be tuned to an individual’s needs for clarity and comfort.
- Background noise control: This feature reduces unwanted background noise by distinguishing between the “sound signatures” of noise and speech and processing them differently. This doesn’t clarify speech, but it reduces distracting periphery sounds, making listening much easier.
- Directional microphones: These hearing aid components amplify sounds based on the directionality of their source. Smaller hearing aids typically have one directional microphone pointing forward, while larger models can have two, directed forward and backward. These microphones can be programmed to be on simultaneously or one at a time depending on your listening needs. As the speech source moves, directional microphones follow it, enhancing speech understanding in noisy environments.
- Multiple programs: Different listening tasks present different demands and require unique methods of sound processing. Programmable hearing aids allow you to select the setting that’s best suited for any given listening activity or environment. Some devices’ programs must be manually adjusted, while advanced instruments automatically select the program that will provide the best listening experience possible based on your surroundings.
- Internal wireless communication: This refers to the information exchange between your right and left hearing devices that allows one to mimic the action of the other automatically. Hearing aids with advanced internal wireless communication share each device’s individual sound processing between themselves, influencing how each hearing aid processes the sound to achieve true binaural (two-ear) sound quality.
- Electronic device connectivity: Many digital hearing aids can connect to televisions, cell phones, MP3 players, computers, assistive listening devices and more. Depending on the hearing aid, this connection is made wirelessly using Bluetooth® technology or by using a cord or adaptor to transmit sound directly to your hearing aid’s speaker.
- Data logging: This refers to hearing devices’ ability to record how the instrument operates during a specified time period. Your hearing healthcare professional can then use this information along with your feedback to fine-tune your devices and programs. Some of today’s hearing aids automatically incorporate user adjustments into their programming.
- Feedback control: This highly effective feature evaluates potentially problematic feedback and sets limits to avoid it while continuously monitoring for unwanted noise. If any feedback is detected, counter-measures are initiated to eliminate it instantly.