What is a digital hearing aid?
So what exactly is a digital hearing aid and why does this even matter? A digital hearing aid is one with a computer chip inside it. The computer chip can analyse and process the sound. This is important because this ‘digital signal processing’ has great advantages for the listener.
Thanks to digital signal processing, hearing aids are able to do incredible things. Here are just some of the digital features that will make a difference to your listening experience:
Hearing aids are smart enough to decide which sounds are speech and which are noise. The hearing aid will automatically work to reduce the noise source and enhance the speech. They can also adapt the direction of the microphone to ‘zoom’ in on the person speaking. This means you will get fantastic clarity and less intrusion from background noise. Hearing in restaurants and meetings is vastly improved.
Many people may remember old analogue hearing aids that whistled every time you moved your head. Those days are long gone with advanced ‘feedback cancellation’ technology.
By analysing the incoming sound, the hearing aid can decide what type of situation you are in. For example it can distinguish between listening in a crowded restaurant versus watching TV at home. They can even work out whether you are outdoors. Once the environment is detected, the hearing aid will automatically change the settings to give you the best signal. This means great clarity no matter what the situation minus the fiddling with remotes or buttons.
Some hearing aids have features which allow you to teach the device your preferences over time. For example, if you turn it down every time you are in a crowded train station, the hearing aid will learn this and eventually turn down on its own.
Left and right hearing aids can now communicate with each other. This helps them get a more accurate picture of the sound environment. It also means that the volume and processing can be synchronised giving you greater balance. You can turn up one hearing aid and the other one will adjust at the same time.
Many hearing aid models are now compatible with mobile phones, computers and TV. Using Bluetooth Hearing Aids to communicate, you will hear these sounds directly in your ears with no wires. For example, if your mobile phone rings, the voice can be sent directly into your hearing aids. You don’t even need to hold onto the phone. This technology is ever expanding and quite amazing.
How does a digital hearing aid work?
- A microphone picks up sounds.
- Sounds are analysed by the computer chip in the hearing aid.
- The sound is processed by the computer chip to give you the clearest signal and is sent to the amplifier.
- Amplified sounds are sent to the loudspeaker.
- Sounds are transmitted by the loudspeaker into the inner ear.
- The inner ear changes the sound into a nerve impulse that is sent to the brain.
- The brain analyses the nerve signal allowing us to hear sound.