Going Digital with Your Hearing Aids

Going Digital with Your Hearing Aids

Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D.
Latest posts by Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D. (see all)

Technology continues to evolve at a faster pace, offering more convenience and functionality. Hearing aids are no exception. This has been made in part by the digital revolution in technology which has been able to provide more power and nuance in smaller and state-of-the-art designs. Digital technology continues to push the limits of what we thought was possible in hearing aids. 

The Digital Revolution

Sometimes to see how far we’ve come it’s important to look back to the past. What were hearing aids like before the digital revolution? Well, the Digital Revolution was a shift from mechanical and analog electronic technology to digital electronics which began in the latter half of the 20th century. For many of us, this has occurred in our lifetime. Do you remember the giant flesh tone hearing aids that your parents or grandparents wore, which were prone to feedback and buzzing? These were most likely analog hearing aids. 

Analog Vs. Digital

Ironically, hearing aids that use analog or digital technology still used the same components since the 1960s. The basic structure still consists of a microphone used to pick up sound, an amplifier to deliver sound to the ear canal, and a battery to provide power. The difference between digital and analog hearing aids lies in the way that the sound is processed. Like an ocean, a sound wave delivers a peak of sound before going down. 


Analog sound delivers sound to your ear in a smooth wave, while digital signals can segment a sound wave into a set of steps. The digital wave can round the segments of the wave into clear signals, while an analog wave delivers every sound available. This is an instance where less is much more. When we hear every sound into our hearing aids, it is more difficult to prioritize the sounds we want to hear. This is why the analog hearing aids of the past were prone to feedback, over-amplification and buzzing. It is most likely these attributes in analog which gave hearing aids the stigma we are still fighting to undo. 


Step into the Future with a Digital Advantage

For years hearing aids offered a combination of digital and analog technology, but by the mid-1990’s the technology had progressed enough to provide a completely digital device. Digital hearing aids are built around digital signal processing or DSP for short. DSP converts the incoming sound into a digital signal which is then processed by microcomputers. This allows medical professionals to program your hearing aids to the specific sounds you struggle with, based on your hearing exam. Everyone’s hearing loss is slightly different. Some people struggle with some consonants and pitches while others might miss some tones. Digital technology makes it possible to avoid amplifying everything and only prioritizes the sounds you need to hear. This makes them amazing for hearing in noisy rooms or suppressing wind, when outdoors.


Digital Features

Aside from superior and enhanced digital performance, the newest technology in hearing aids continues to push the limits. Now hearing aids offer Bluetooth technology to seamlessly connect to your smartphone and other regularly used media, wirelessly. This means you can listen to the TV, or the GPS while driving, streamed directly and clearly to your ears. The future of hearing aids offers machine learning and artificial intelligence to learn your listening habits and automatically change settings as you enter regularly visited locations, using GPS. They also offer interconnectivity with your Smartphone, allowing us to modify your hearing program remotely, so you can skip the drive to come to see us. 


Find Out What Digital Technology Can Offer You

The future of hearing aids continues to rapidly develop, making hearing with hearing loss easier than before. Most hearing aids last on average 5 to 7 years. This may not seem like a long time at first but if you consider all the work these tiny machines do, day after day, it’s impressive. If it is time to upgrade your hearing aids, and they aren’t performing for you like they used to, we can help. There is a wide array of choices out there for digital hearing aids, but with our help, we can help you find the best ones for you and your lifestyle.