September 2, 2015 Blog

We are always announcing new developments and improvements in the hearing aid world – and this isn’t too difficult to do, given the many exciting changes technology brings us on a daily basis. While there is certainly much to be celebrating and perhaps even more to anticipate, it can be eye-opening to take a look back at the early hearing aids.

Considering the practical invisibility of today’s aids, you may be surprised that they started out so bulky, large and obtrusive. Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison somewhat accidentally developed hearing improvements through the telephone, but they were so minimal that users could not find them particularly helpful. The vacuum tube is perhaps one of the most famous stages of the hearing aid: Lee De Forest manufactured it in 1907 – just over 100 years ago. The tube amplified sound, but it was still impractical; it was very large and weighed 220 pounds! This is a far cry from the near weightless aids we have now. The next leap came in 1927, when a (significantly smaller) box was made for those with hearing difficulties. Users had to hold the adhered receiver up to their ears – once more disrupting daily lives and social situations. We can see where the negative misconceptions about hearing aids have their roots. big1

1938 marked the year the first viable hearing aid was created; still, its wearer had to deal with a battery pack strapped to his or her leg! The 40s and 50s brought along similar, slight advancements, but users still longed for less aid visibility. During the latter half of the 50s, however, progress was made through aids which had their electronic connections concealed along a pair of eyeglasses. Check out The Otarion Listener here.

The 1960s and Zenith Radio brought along the behind-the-ear (BTE) aids we are now familiar with. Of course, these early models were still quite bulky, despite their portability and convenience. The technological discoveries of the 80s and 90s, along with the advancements in computers, ultimately paved the way to the millennial hearing aids we know and love for their practicality, quality, and near-invisibility.

 



August 27, 2015 Blog

It seems like 3D Printing has been everywhere lately. More and more often students, innovators and companies alike are finding new ways to implement this eclectic new feature into their lives – printing straight from the imagination. This has exciting impacts on the medical world, too; already many medical supplies and prosthetics have been created, for example. (Even animals are getting in on the possibilities: two wounded toucans recently received 3D-printed beaks!)



July 29, 2015 Blog

Many parents out there may grumble at the thought of videogames as an avenue for improved health – but as it turns out, the top developer of gaming headsets has made huge strides in an unexpected direction: hearing. Turtle Beach Corporation has implemented audio technology that allows headset wearers to hear very soft sounds clearly during gameplay. After partnering with HyperSound, the company realized the potential behind their development and created an innovative speaker system specifically designed to assist the hearing impaired. The HyperSound Clear speaker system sends “a narrow beam of audio directly to the viewer with the hearing loss.” This allows them to hear the sound clearly while the others in the room hear the sound at a normal volume, so everyone can listen, watch or play with ease.

And the best part of this new invention? According to the developers, the company is committed to keeping costs down – making this little luxury affordable.

 

The HyperSound Clear



July 2, 2015 Blog

On the theme of protecting your hearing during a typically loud weekend (thanks fireworks!), we wanted to share news of a recently introduced Android feature. Developers have created a automatic headset and headphone detector that warns users when their volume is too high. A notification pops up on the screen when a user increases the volume (while listening to music, audiobooks, etc.) to a level that can cause temporary or lasting damage to his or her hearing. While a quick Google search will reveal that most users are simply looking to disable the unsafe volume warning, this feature is quite a positive one. Now, even your phone is looking out for your ears – and it’s important for you to do the same!



April 3, 2015 Blog

In a recent New York Times article, author Katherine Bouton addresses a relevant issue regarding hearing aids and employment. A major concern for many hearing impaired individuals is that their hearing loss will affect their livelihood; unfortunately, this concern become a hearing aid deterrent. This means that many people will deny the need for hearing aids out of fear that the use will be poorly received by employers.

While we have absolutely seen great strides against this kind of discrimination in the workplace, some employees still face this struggle. Bouton’s article points to police departments that (perhaps unintentionally) discourage their employees’ use of hearing aids, with some going so far as to urge early retirement. The misconception that hearing aids imply some kind of handicap is what truly causes this kind of workplace injustice. As we know, hearing aids simply improve one’s ability to function at high-quality every day – in the workplace and out of it. Truthfully, employees with hearing aids are only at a disadvantage when their employers remain ignorant to the modern benefits these aids can bring.



March 30, 2015 Blog

This father’s love went viral when a picture of his supportive tattoo was posted on the web. His daughter has a cochlear implant for one ear to allow her to hear more completely. The disk on the side of the user’s head connects to a magnetic chip under the scalp, allowing for improved volume and clarity for one who is profoundly deaf. As we know, most of the modern hearing aids are designed specifically against visibility, with small sizes, clear, thin tubes, and shells that match hair color. This is simply to allow a user more comfort. Since this is more difficult with the design of the cochlear implant, this girl’s father took matters into his own hands and got a tattoo of an implant right behind his ear and up his scalp. His pride for the instrument can help inspire the same in his daughter and other hearing impaired individuals like her – and it can help all of us see the importance of putting your hearing health first.



March 2, 2015 Blog

With all the snow that’s been dumped on us this winter, most of us are eagerly waiting for spring. A tip from our specialists is to get your hearing aids cleaned often. Well-maintained aids last longer with regular tune-ups. And like any investment, hearing aids benefit from careful attention.



February 22, 2015 Blog

Finding the encouragement and motivation to embrace the use of hearing aids can be difficult when they’re not exactly publicized in the positive light that they should be. Despite the fact that they continue to evolve and change to suit one’s comfort as invisibly as possible, many people still shy away from them. But it can be helpful to see that many celebrities old and new have made known their hearing loss and need for hearing aids. And knowing that others have faced the same difficulties that you have can be incredibly reassuring. Let’s look at a few famous individuals who have overcome their fears and opened up their arms to all the good hearing aids can bring. 



February 22, 2015 Blog

We’ve mentioned before that hearing loss can impact one’s memory. But did you know it can impact your balance as well?

 

This seems straightforward when you consider the fact that hearing aids can help rebuild one’s connection to others. Comprehension, understanding and social bonding become easier with improved clarity of sound.  Since balance (like many human abilities) relies on the processing of information between the body, skin, eyes, hearing, and the brain. The inner ear acts as this processor – the balance center. Many studies have shown that hearing loss can make an individual three times more likely to fall or lose balance.

 

Given the numerous difficulties and painful complications that can arise from falling as we age, it is important to give oneself the best odds possible and take any necessary precautions against risks like these.


Beth S. Levine M.S., CCC-A, F-AAA owner and licensed audiologist, is a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology. She is licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in Audiology, and certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

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