Wearables, wearable technology, fashion technology… the Internet of Things seems to be the hottest topic – and item on people’s holiday wish lists – this year. As the market gets bigger and everything from our watches to pillows become connected, we’re highlighting the OG of wearable tech: the hearing aid.
You’re wearing a small computer
We’ve gone a long way from the big, clunky “hearing aids” worn around people’s necks or carried in handbags. These days, the wires inside hearing aids can be smaller than human hair; and the microphone, processor and loudspeaker inside the hearing aid can all be smaller than the tip of your pinky finger. Modern hearing aids are customized to fit the shape of your ear, the degree of your hearing loss, your lifestyle and your hearing habits. And, the tiny processors inside digital hearing aids can optimize sounds for various listing situations. (The Phonak AutoSense OS operating system is structured to address more than 200 settings.) Phonak also has the smallest hearing aid on the market: the Phonak Lyric, which is 12mm and has a revolutionary battery about the size of a grain of rice.
Stream music, make a wireless phone call or hook them up to your TV. Today’s digital, Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids allow you to beam audio sources directly to your ears and hear in situations even better than those with “normal” hearing. Now you can be at the graduation ceremony of your second niece half-removed and discretely stream the big game or the latest “Serial” podcast directly to your ears, and no one will ever know.
Studies show that using hearing aids can help prevent cognitive decline in elderly adults with hearing loss, as well as improve one’s quality of life in general. Using a hearing aid can help improve family relationships, increase self-confidence, improve physical well-being, reduce fatigue, improve sociability, become more independent and improve mental health. Now, what smart watch can do that?!
Hearing technology comes in all shapes and sizes for all levels of hearing loss. Whether you want a bright pink hearing aid with sparkly ear molds, or a completely in-the-ear, invisible version, there’s a hearing aid that fits your personality. Your personality changes with the season? No problem. There’s a whole movement of proud hearing aid wearers who are showing off hearing technology by decorating them. Now you have a blank canvas and a unique accessory to incorporate the latest fashion trend. Check out Pinterest for lots of ideas to decorate hearing aids with nail stickers, washi tape, character gems, and more.
Apple has gone from its first Gen iPod to the wearable Apple Watch, just as hearing technology has gone from the ear trumpet to the groundbreaking Phonak Lyric. The first “hearing aid” was created in the 17th century, and since then it has gone through countless revisions, upgrades and advances in micro-engineering to get us where we are today. But even with completely invisible or wirelessly connectable hearing aids, the technology is always advancing. What’s next? Invisible, re-chargeable, custom fitted, waterproof “earables” that can measure your heart rate and calories, all while streaming a phone call and informing you of your latest “likes,” hands-free directly to your ears? Just maybe…