EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Technology is constantly changing, so it should come as no surprise that hearing aids are also always improving.
Tuesday, Starkey Hearing announced some new advances, some of which are specific to the pandemic.
“Even with normal hearing I think people are experiencing the difficulties imposed when you take away lip reading and reduce some of the high-pitched speech sounds that are so essential to speech understanding,” says Dave Fabry, Ph.D., Chief Innovation Officer at Starkey Hearing.
He’s right. Have you noticed how hard it is to hear people when they are wearing a mask? Or you're standing, a socially-distanced, six feet away?
Now imagine you have hearing loss. Starkey hearing has launched a new feature that uses Artificial Intelligence to compensate for the inconveniences of COVID.
“Hearing aid users can go into their real world and simply tap on the side of their device. It will do an acoustic scan of the environment," Fabry says.
“Edge mode is a feature that we have incorporated into these latest devices to optimize the speech understanding, regardless of whether somebody is wearing a face mask, socially distanced, whether there is background noise present,” he explains.
Edge mode can apparently adjust for the kind of mask someone is wearing, the distance they are away and other noises it detects. Another new feature? Live sessions. They are designed to allow patients to visit their audiologist without having to go to a physical location.
“The professional can actually converse with you and make adjustments, reprogram the hearing aid remotely,” he says.
Hearing aids are meant help you hear better, but this new generation is multi-functional. They are small, powerful, rechargeable. You can run a diagnostic test right from your smart phone, connect them to other devices, run them with apps, and now even use them to find your phone.
“I can double tap on the device, say “where's my phone”? And it will ring to the phone, so that if it's hiding in plain sight in the living room, or in my office, I can immediately locate it with an acoustic tone that I hear in my ear,” he demonstrates.
Starkey's mission is to help people hear better so they can live better. And they believe making this technology available to more people will do just that.