Back in the olden days of hearing aids, adjusting them was pretty basic. Artificial sounds like tones and beeps were played, the user gave feedback, and a technician adjusted the unit (oftentimes with an old-fashioned screwdriver).
In today’s digital world that is no more.
Like CDs and other digitized recordings replacing 8-tracks, today’s hearing aids use the latest in computer capabilities to create customized adjustments for individual users.
A whole variety of stimulated sound environments — and increasingly, data collection and operating adjustment from real-world environments via the Internet — are how hearing aids are “tweaked” today.
The first step is a comprehensive hearing evaluation by a trained professional. This will create a data baseline on which future adjustments will be based, enabling a soundscape to be crafted to your individual hearing tendencies. No one cookie-cutter input.
With high-tech equipment — such as real-ear probe microphones that precisely record sounds when they make contact with the eardrum and visible-speech mapping that analyzes how specific verbal sounds interact in the ear — the capability to customize a hearing aid’s programming is spectacular.
From there, many better hearing professionals have rooms with surround-sound systems that can create a wide variety of simulations, including hard-to-hear environments like crowded rooms. A myriad of initial adjustments can be made, thanks to the powerful computing power that today is squeezed into the tiny area of a hearing aid’s processor chip.
Things like noise reduction that will aid the user and feedback reduction can be dealt with, which will get a hearing aid as ready for the real world as it can be.
Some hearing aids now offer interactive adjustment features that collect data from the user’s daily routine, upload it to the cloud via the Internet, and then allow on-the-fly or at-a-later-date adjustments to be made.
It’s all a long way from beeps and tones that sounded like Morse code and a half-turn to the right or left.