Over the past thirty years, developments in hearing aid services have allowed doctors worldwide to provide superior care to those patients who suffer from hearing loss. However, due to the physical limitations of both the hearing aid’s construction and the physiological issues behind hearing loss, there are still a number of issues to be overcome—issues that several companies are currently addressing.

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A range of issues facing the development of a so-called “perfect” hearing aid are based in the physical nature of sound itself. As one of the goals of an optimal hearing aid is to reduce the sense of isolation felt by those who suffer from hearing loss, the clear and understandable transmission of speech is essential. Due to the physical interference of sound waves produced by background noise, however, it can be difficult for hearing aids to discriminate, amplifying both the voice of the speaker and the background noise simultaneously.

A number of solutions to this problem are currently in development. As shown by this paper, an increase in the programming capability of microchips combined with a decrease in the power such hardware requires, has led to several notable advancements in speech recognition software, emphasizing a selective amplification of speech while ignoring the sound around it. Likewise, studies into the physiology of the Ormia Ochracea fly have yielded incredible information regarding effective directional microphones.

Another issue facing the production of an effective hearing aid is based in the very nature of the device itself. The Occlusion Effect—that is, the hollow or booming sound of one’s own voice when the outer ear canal is obstructed—is an issue that has plagued the development of an effective hearing aid for decades. However, with recent progress being made in affordable and accurate 3D printing, issues with ill-fitting standardized equipment are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

In addition, increased miniaturization of the technology required to produce an effective hearing aid has provided the much-needed flexibility to adjust each variable to reduce physical discomfort to the lowest points imaginable. Interestingly enough, however, this reduction in size has yielded its own issues, as the placement of a microphone and an amplifier in such close proximity has some recipients reporting an increased level of auditory feedback when using their hearing aid.

As an organization at the forefront of auditory health, Oklahoma Hearing Center is well-versed with the issues surrounding the treatment of hearing loss. We believe that it is an exciting time for the industry, with developments often appearing and entering the market at an unheard-of rate and with unprecedented success. Still, there is a long way to go in the development of an optimal hearing aid, and many of the solutions available today may not address each individual’s needs. If you are interested in what the newest developments in hearing aid services can do for you, contact us today at http://www.okhc.org/contact/. We look forward to finding the right solution for you.

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Citations:

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.117.6883&rep=rep1&type=pdf

http://www.asknature.org/strategy/6a35fc4866393f312c1c913a2d22ee90

http://www.sonova.com/en/features/3d-printing-technology-improved-hearing