Taking Hearing Aids Mainstream: Ear-Level Gadgets to Boost Prosperity and Health

 “Dress up and put on diamonds even to answer the phone, as it changes the way you are.”  Mae West

Let’s take a break from the hearing aid history series and go check out the future of hearing aids.

Chicbud Adornment

It’s probably safe to say that all economists agree that technology drives production and prosperity.  In most cases, prosperity translates into improvements in health as well as traditional measures such as wealth. The wealth effect shows up ear-level in items such as the fashionista “chicbuds” technology.  Beyond that, however, it’s interesting to think about built-in sensors already in the works for next-generation phones and how those technologies may affect and improve hearing health and general health.

At the time of writing, up and coming sensors include heart monitors, mood and excitement monitors, and some that will register characteristics of location and environment (e.g., temperature, humidity). A blog in today’s New York Times says”it’s only a matter of time before these sensors move beyond the smartphone and into people’s clothes, glasses and homes.”

I think you can see where my mind is going – why not sensors in hearing aids?  We’ve already almost got the phone into the hearing aids, so this seems like a logical step.  Convergence remains the name of the technology game and there are all sorts of applications that come to mind, among them:

1)  The obvious one of self-administered daily hearing sensitivity checks,
2) Real time hearing aid performance checks, including moisture warnings to wearers;
3) Automatic hearing aid adjustments in response to one’s level of excitement, anxiety, and other mood measures;
4) Dosimeter-type monitoring with real time noise exposure feedback to the wearer;
5) Cerumen monitors that work not only to alert users to when it’s time for a cleaning, but also to changes in cerumen that may signify health alerts;

That’s five ideas in 2 minutes.  I imagine readers can come up with more to add to this list with only a few minutesthought.  Please send in your ideas.  Let’s make a BIG list and do our part to move technology, prosperity and health forward!


About Holly Hosford-Dunn

Holly Hosford-Dunn, PhD, graduated with a BA and MA in Communication Disorders from New Mexico State, completed a PhD in Hearing Sciences at Stanford, and did post-docs at Max Planck Institute (Germany) and Eaton-Peabody Auditory Physiology Lab (Boston). Post-education, she directed the Stanford University Audiology Clinic; developed multi-office private practices in Arizona; authored/edited numerous text books, chapters, journals, and articles; and taught Marketing, Practice Management, Hearing Science, Auditory Electrophysiology, and Amplification in a variety of academic settings.