An unprecedented look at how people use their hearing aids could lead to highly intelligent hearing devices.
Copenhagen, Denmark, March 9th, 2020 – When Alexander Fleming accidentally discovered Penicillin, modern medicine was transformed. Thanks to a study of data collected from hearing aid users, leading hearing aid manufacturer, Oticon, has revealed some anomalies which could lead to technological developments that change the way hearing aids benefit users forever.
By identifying that hearing aid users sometimes go against the grain when it comes to the expected support they choose from their hearing aid, sooner rather than later, Oticon hearing aid users could be enjoying a completely personal, tailored hearing experience. This revelation and consequent technology developments will contribute to highly intelligent, real-world hearing, and take yet another step towards super hearing.
Oticon’s Eriksholm research center has been playing a major role in an EU funded study of how people with hearing loss are using their hearing aids (Evotion Project), the results of which will be used to determine future hearing healthcare policies. The study inspired Oticon to launch HearingFitness, an app tool for its internet-connected hearing aids which, in addition to encouraging its hearing aid users to understand how their hearing aids can best support them, also collects voluntary user data, such as sound environment analysis and hearing aid usage, providing unprecedented insight into how hearing aids are used in everyday life. Comparing this data to the Evotion project data, Oticon has discovered that some results are challenging the hypothesis of when hearing aid users require certain settings.
“A lot of the study results back up what we expect a hearing aid user to demand throughout the day. For example, we are committed to researching how the brain is affected by hearing loss. From this we understand that towards the end of the day someone with hearing loss is going to be experiencing fatigue and are likely to require more support from their hearing aid. Especially as most hearing aid users are dealing with more conversation at the end of their day, which is confirmed by the Evotion project results. But what was unforeseen were the incidences of conflicting data, and we were determined to delve deeper to get a better understanding of why hearing users were choosing settings that went against convention.”
Niels Pontoppidan, Research Area Manager, Eriksholm Research Centre, Oticon.
Oticon interviewed a number of test subjects to fully understand why some hearing aid users were choosing surprising settings in certain sound environments. As a rule of thumb, hearing aid users choose extra support from their hearing aid in noise, as it helps them to better understand speech, and require little support in quiet situations. Now imagine a loud spinning class, one user told Oticon that they would rather have the immersive experience and so didn’t choose a setting that would be expected in noise.
In stark comparison, another user playing bridge in near silence unexpectedly chose a high setting to gain additional support, reportedly because they only wanted to focus on listening to the person across the table. Hearing aids of the future undoubtedly need to be more attuned to how individuals live their lives.
“Thanks to the use of artificial intelligence we are already working towards ensuring that hearing aids can learn a user’s preferences and intentions. What we have discovered is that it is essential to be even more mindful of personal preferences when we are developing hearing aid technology for the future. People are individuals and their lives demand to be treated as so, we therefore need to ensure hearing aid users have complete freedom to take control of their personal hearing experience, more so than ever before. We will also be committed to ensuring that the application of artificial intelligence can be linked with the data from devices such as smartphones and smartwatches, which will help future hearing aids to learn when and where a user chooses certain support settings so that eventually the anomalies become the norm, on a highly individual basis. Hearing aids are very quickly becoming super tools and could one day be the envy of those without a hearing loss.”
For more information on Oticon visit: www.oticon.global.
500 million people worldwide suffer from hearing loss. The majority are over the age of 50 while eight percent are under the age of 18. Oticon's vision is to create a world where people are no longer limited by hearing loss. A world where hearing aids fit seamlessly into life and help people realise their full potential, while avoiding the health consequences of hearing loss. Oticon develops and manufactures hearing aids for both adults and children and supports every kind of hearing loss from mild to profound and we pride ourselves on developing some of the most innovative hearing aids in the market. Headquartered in Denmark, we are a global company and part of Demant with more than 15,000 employees and revenues of over DKK 14 billion. Changing technology. Changing conventions. Changing lives. Oticon – Life-changing hearing technology. www.oticon.global