For many of us, the term “artificial intelligence” conjures up images of R2D2, Robocop or other full-scale human robots from sci-fi movies. These advancements would most certainly fall into the category of artificial intelligence. In real life, however, artificial intelligence is a bit more subtle. You might be surprised to learn just how much artificial intelligence plays a role in our daily lives – from our Google searches to our hearing aids.

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence or (Ai) is present when a machine is capable of performing tasks that have human characteristics. This can mean planning, understanding language, recognizing objects, problem solving and learning (https://medium.com/iotforall/the-difference-between-artificial-intelligence-machine-learning-and-deep-learning-3aa67bff5991). Most often, to develop a machine with AI capabilities, the piece of technology must first undergo machine learning.

Machine learning is a way of “training” a machine to develop artificial intelligence. For example, a machine can recognize a horse in a photo – even a photo the machine has never been exposed to – through machine learning. In this case, the machine would be exposed to hundreds of thousands of pictures that would be tagged by humans as including a horse or not including a horse. Eventually, the machine would begin to understand the characteristics of a photo of a horse, and would eventually be able to discern if a horse was present in a photo that had not been previously tagged by a human – thus developing artificial intelligence – the ability to learn (https://medium.com/iotforall/the-difference-between-artificial-intelligence-machine-learning-and-deep-learning-3aa67bff5991).

What does this have to do with hearing aids?

Of course, it would make no sense to “teach” a hearing aid how to recognize a photo of a horse, but there are many other intelligent functions that are extremely helpful in hearing technology.

The human auditory system is one of our most complex. With natural hearing, we are able to constantly take in multiple layers of sound waves and process them in nanoseconds. Our brains intuitively discern where the sounds are coming from, choose which sounds to pay attention to, which to ignore, and how to blend multiple sounds at once. Modern hearing aids – especially modern hearing aids with Ai – are capable of helping people with hearing loss to replicate some of these processes.

Ai hearing aid technology available today

Major hearing aid manufacturers are starting to discover how to integrate Ai technology with their hearing devices. Two of the first players to the game are Widex and Starkey.

Widex EVOKE – Widex has recently unveiled their EVOKE hearing aid, touting it as the “world’s first smart hearing aid”. This hearing aid is a great example of the power of Ai technology with hearing aids. With a few taps on the EVOKE app, wearers can “teach” their hearing aid their sound preferences in different listening environments. Once the EVOKE has “learned” the wearer’s specific needs and preferences, it will automatically begin to make adjustments based on the location and sound environment the wearer is experiencing.

Starkey Livio Ai – The Livio Ai by Starkey uses its patented Hearing Reality(tm) technology to help wearers better hear and process the sounds around them. As mentioned above, we are constantly bombarded with sounds all around us. Some are loud, some are quiet, some are meant to be ignored, and others we pay attention to. People with “normal” hearing are able to instantly process and blend all of these sounds, allowing us to focus on what is important and drown out sounds that we don’t need to hear. Hearing Reality(tm) helps wearers with hearing loss to better replicate natural hearing using high-speed, high-definition computer processing. In a recent study, 98% of Livio Ai wearers reported satisfaction with their hearing aids and wearers also reported expending less listening effort – meaning listening and hearing was easier and more natural.

The Livio Ai also uses Ai technology to help track the wearers cognitive and physical health. The Ai uses 3D motion sensors to track physical movement like exercise and cognitive wellness like hearing aid usage, social interaction, and time spent actively listening. The hearing aids can also learn many functions – including translating languages.