Hearing aids are complex devices that amplify sounds for people perceiving words, music and other noise. They gather sound energy and direct it into the ear canal, allowing user's to better understand and interpret sounds. While this principal hasn't changed since their inception, new technologies deliver users far superior results from their hearing aids with more functionality, applications, and smaller, sleeker styles.
In this article, we'll look at a brief historical perspective, hearing aid trends, and the leading manufacturers.
In use since the 1600s, their design, functionality and size have changed radically over the centuries. In the early days, hearing aids were known as ear trumpets. It was literally putting a horn to your ear so it could funnel sound, which help to collect the sounds the person wanted to hear, blocking other noises.
The invention of the telephone helped improve hearing technology and thereafter the first electric hearing aid was created. Modern digital hearing aids were invented in the 1960s. New inventions like digital signal processing chips, transmitters, and carbon microphones all helped transform hearing aids into a powerful, compact, intelligent devices.
Like computers they started out as large, bulky objects but, advances in technology over the last 50 years, some hearing aid models are now so tiny that they can fit entirely within the ear. These are known as invisible hearing aids but there are a wide range of styles including behind-the-ear and in-the-ear.
Hearing aids and their accessories have kept up to date with new technology such as iPhone streaming, wireless, and phone/remote controls. There is also connectivity available with TVs, mp3s, iPads and other devices through Bluetooth and other technologies.
Types of Hearing Aids
There are currently six major hearing aid manufacturers that produce about 98% of all the hearing aids sold:
- William Demant Holdings, makers of Oticon, Bernafon, and Sonic Innovations.
- Sonova, makers of Phonak, Lyric, and Unitron
- Sivantos, makers of Siemens, Rexton, Miracle Ear™
- GN Resound, makers of ReSound, Interton, Beltone
- Starkey Hearing Technologies, makers of Starkey, Audible, and NuEar
New technologies have spurred interest in the hearing aid industry with new collaborations, partnerships, and new emerging companies. Apple has partnered with ReSound, Starkey, and Beltone to develop a Made For iPhone system. Samsung is also developing better connectivity with their Galaxy smartphones.
Find out what's new with hearing aids and the latest models. Schedule a free hearing examination at your Central Massachusetts Hearing & Balance Centers of New England