Hearing Aid Technology
Hearing aid technology has improved drastically over the past couple of decades.
Today’s devices take advantage of digital signal processing, microchips and computerization.
Keeping track of the latest technological features can be challenging, but we’ll cover a few of the more popular options here.
- Wireless accessories. Utilizing Bluetooth® technology, wireless accessories enable you to hear better in situations where there is a lot of background noise or distance between you and the speaker. These include wireless microphones, remote controls and television adaptors.
- FM Systems. These are helpful in educational situations because a teacher’s words are transmitted directly into the student’s ears. Transmitters and receivers work together to overcome background noise, distance and reverberation, and contribute to a better learning experience.
- Charging stations. For those with rechargeable hearing aids, a charging station is essential. Instead of having to utilize battery compartments, users can simply place their hearing aids in the cradle for a few hours to get a full day’s worth of listening time.
Most hearing aids use disposable zinc-air batteries that are color and number-coded for easy replacement.
The type of battery needed depends on the style and size of your hearing aids and includes: 10 (yellow), 13 (orange), 312 (brown) and 675 (blue).
Batteries last five days to three weeks depending on the battery size and style of your hearing aids.
Most drugstores carry replacement batteries; they can also be purchased from your audiologist at Houston Hearing Center or ordered online.
Rechargeable hearing aids are a popular request from hearing aid users.
The benefits of rechargeable batteries include:
- A safe place to keep hearing devices overnight
- Never having to run out of disposable batteries
It is important to note that hearing aid chargers are generally not readily available.
If you forget your charger on an overnight trip or experience an extended power outage, the hearing aids will no longer function.
Therefore, we recommend discussing your lifestyle with your hearing specialist to determine if this technology may be right for you.
Assistive Listening Devices
Assistive listening devices (ALDs) are portable systems that help individuals with hearing loss communicate more effectively.
Unlike hearing aids, which amplify sounds, ALDs work by separating speech from background noise. This allows the person with the hearing impairment to hear more clearly.
Some ALDs are used in conjunction with hearing aids, while others work as standalone devices. ALDs are useful in a number of situations, primarily those involving distance, poor acoustics and noisy backgrounds.
There are several different types of ALDs available, for both large facilities and personal use.
Some focus on amplifying speech, while others utilize computer programs to convert text to speech. Some of the different types include:
Personal amplifiers are essentially small FM systems used in smaller, more intimate settings where radio signals are less effective; they are often used when watching television, traveling by car or spending time outdoors.
The microphone is built directly into the unit, and is often directional, allowing you to aim it in the direction of the sound source in order to pick up the signal most effectively.
Infrared systems work on the same principle as FM systems, but use infrared light instead of radio waves to transmit sound.
The transmitter converts sound signals into light and beams those to the receiver, which then translates the light signal back into sound.
An advantage to infrared systems is the fact that their signal is unable to pass through walls as it does with FM systems, eliminating competing broadcasts that might hamper the listener and preventing confidential information from being disseminated.
They are particularly useful in courtrooms and large movie theaters.
Hearing loop, or induction loop, systems utilize electromagnetic energy to transmit sound directly to your hearing aid or cochlear implant.
They consist of a sound source (public address systems are popular), an amplifier, a loop of wire and a receiver or telecoil (t-coil), a tiny wireless receiver built into many devices.
When you are in close proximity to the loop, you will receive clear sound free of background noise. Hearing loops can be connected to all types of audio sources, and are often set up in public facilities such as airports, churches and lecture halls.
Call Houston Hearing Center at 281-649-7215 for more information or to schedule an appointment.