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Keeping an Ear Out - The Future of the Hearing Aid

Time to Read: 7 minutes

There are remarkable advancements in hearing aid technology being released every year. We're polishing up our crystal ball to look at the future of hearing aids:

  • The Stem of the Problem
  • Laser Sharp Hearing
  • Human Power
  • Cochlear Regeneration
  • Seeing is Hearing

Predicting technology trends is not an exact science, but what it does do is allows us to take educated guesses based on past trends and cutting edge research to formulate logical pathways for today's items.  When it comes to the future of the hearing aid, we are living in a world of constant change and advancement, making it hard to differentiate the present from the future—essentially, the future of the hearing aid is now.

But to look forward over the next 10, 20 or 30 years isn't difficult to do because some of the technology that the future of the hearing aid will be based upon is already operational or as close to it as we've ever been.  Here's a brief look at what you have to look forward to and what you can expect from the hearing aid industry over the next few decades.

The Future of the Hearing Aid—The Stem of the Problem

One of the most exciting and promising avenues of research with hearing aids is in Stem Cell research.  Scientists have recently injected Stem Cells into the ears of deaf gerbils.  In response to this injection, there was a 45% restoration of hearing ability, making it promising that the same will be true in humans.  The next stage of development is human trials which are set to begin in the near future.  While this isn't a “hearing aid” as we know it, the future of hearing aids will likely be nothing like we imagine today.

The Future of the Hearing Aid—Laser Sharp Hearing

Currently in the clinical study phase is another exciting innovation in hearing aids.  This one has a transducer mounted on the ear drum called an “ear lens.”  The ear lens receives a laser beam signal from a transmitter located on the outside of the ear.  The laser is interpreted and converted to a vibration which is relayed directly onto the ear drum.  This delivers a higher range and frequency of availability than modern hearing aids, making lasers a definite part of the future of the hearing aid.

The Future of the Hearing Aid—Human Power

In about 5 to 10 years, the scientific community is in general agreement that the need for batteries in hearing aids will be zero.  That's because hearing aids will be directly implanted into the human ear and powered by the human energy system through inductive charging.  This simply means that the hearing aid will function as a part of your body, drawing energy and lifeforce from it just as any of your other internal organs or body parts do.

The Future of the Hearing Aid—Cochlear Regeneration

Over the next three decades, scientists expect to be able to manipulate enough of the ear's anatomy to be able to regrow damaged portions of the cochlear and cilia, two of the most common parts of the ear which cause hearing loss and deafness.  While there are many differing routes that scientists are taking, the two most popular are complete regrowth of the cochlear and cilia (most likely through stem cell research) and prompting the surrounding cells to switch their cellular type to form into functioning hearing receptacles.

The Future of the Hearing Aid—Seeing is Hearing

Currently being developed is the visually guided hearing aid (VGHA).  This takes an eye-tracker and an acoustic beam and combines them to form a microphone array.  The goal here is to fix the hearing aid into a pair of eyeglasses so that whatever the user is looking at, the hearing aid is amplifying.  This will help in noisy or crowded situations where the user wants to focus in on one person or direction rather than having the entire room amplified.

In this same vein, Google Glass transmits all of its sound through bone conduction, a non-obtrusive sound amplification system similar to many hearing aids today.  With the increasing popularity of technology that can be worn in and around the head/ears/eyes, it's clear that the future of the hearing aid is tied directly into the natural stream of technology as it is advancing today.

This means exciting times are in store for those that need hearing aids.  Click here  right now to find out when some of these items will be available—or if they already are!