Hearing aid is a small device that is worn behind the ear to make the sound louder to the person with a hearing impairment.
Following is the normal hearing mechanism:
A hearing aid helps in improving the hearing through the following mechanisms:
The disadvantages of the normal hearing aids are that they cannot restore normal hearing as:
- They amplify all the sounds including the background noises which will confuse the users.
- Learning to adjust the settings are more complicated.
Boon of Artificial intelligence in talking the disadvantages of hearing aids:
To overcome the disadvantage of the amplification of noises, attempts were made through signal processing. The voice-activity detector was used to identify the gaps between the people’s utterances and labelled the sounds in-between as noise. Hence using this method, they tried to design an algorithm that subtracts the noise from the original recording. In other terms, this is known as spectral subtraction. Unfortunately, through this method, too much noise or too little noise were removed.
With the evolution of artificial intelligence, this issue has been able to be addressed at a very large level.
Using the features of AI, the hearing aid has been able to differentiate a wide variety of noises. It can differentiate the background noise from speech. In other words, it can mimic the brain which would hear the sound in case the hearing has not been impaired.
Few advancements in the research field are:
Smart Phone App:
Panahi, along with co-principal investigator Dr. Linda Thibodeau, used AI to create a smartphone app that can tell the direction where speech is coming from. This app has a huge library of sounds to identify the background noise to provide a better hearing.
Oticon More’s neural net:
This helps in understanding more complicated layers of sound. In a more crowded region such as a park or market, the Oticon More would receive a complicated layer of sound. The DNN screens and extracts the simple sound elements and builds these elements together to recognize them. They then decide on how to balance the sound surroundings to give a clean and ideally balanced hearing.
SoundSense Learn of Widex:
It compares the complex combinations of settings by collecting user input through a simplified interface. Hence it helps the device to be more user-friendly.
The AI-based hearing aid has not only contributed to improving the quality of hearing of a person with hearing impairment but also has an important role in gaming and other industries also.
For example, Livio Edge has taken AI to new heights by providing clear hearing even in busy settings by suppressing unwanted noise.
Keeping the current scenario of COVID in mind, it also boosts speech sounds to make the sounds clear even to people who are wearing face masks.
Hence artificial intelligence is a game-changer in the field of hearing aids. It not only has led to improvement in the living standards of people with hearing impairment. It has also paved the way to investigate and prevent at earlier stages, further deterioration in the hearing capacity and other co-morbidities such as Alzheimer’s disease, clinical depression, diabetes and many more.
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I am passionate about exploring the advancements of artificial intelligence in the field of the healthcare industry.