Hearing aids that were analogue but programmable came next, and then soon after that was the advent of open ear hearing aids. These revolutionised the hearing profession, giving extra clarity, noise filters, dual microphones and an accurate programming ability. When we look at original digital hearing aids now, they seem as antiquated as an 耳鳴成因 analogue aids would have done when digital first became available, but at the time they were groundbreaking.
The biggest breakthrough for the hearing aid wearer is the open fit devices. The first of these was the Resound Hearing Aid called the Contact Air. This comprised of a small pod behind the ear using size 10 hearing battery, a very thin tube to carry the sound into the ear, where it connected to a soft dome, which fitted snugly in the ear canal. These were amazingly popular and successful, and were responsible for a revolution in hearing aid technology.
The Delta was the first Oticon hearing system to incorporate an open fit and the Savia Art and Audeo are some of the early open fit Phonak Hearing Aids. The Delta from Oticon (which has now been superseded by the Dual Mini) introduced RITE (receiver in the ear) technology, which removed the acoustic vagaries of thin tubing, as the tubing itself was replaced by a wire which carried the sound electronically to the speaker, which was housed underneath the soft rubbery dome.
This newest option in hearing aid technology is of great benefit to many of today’s tech savvy baby boomers. It enables them to be more actively involved with their digital hearing aids – particularly those interested in being able to work with programming software that runs on their own personal computers. In addition, they won’t have to take time off from work to visit an office for adjustments. If they do have questions about hearing aid technology or adjustments, they can simply pick up the phone and call the vendor for more information. The vendor may even be able to make the adjustments and send a file via the internet to be downloaded to the hearing aid.
Another big change in hearing aid technology is that the latest hearing aid models do not require the same fitting process that past aids did. Older digital hearing aids as well as some that are still available today need to be fit with the creation of a silicon mold (a. k. a. a custom earmold) so that the aid matches the shape of the wearer’s ear. This process is known as taking an impression. Today, baby boomers with mild to moderate hearing loss can take advantage of new digital hearing aid technology and purchase open-fit and speaker-in-the-ear hearing aids.
These devices can be placed on anyone’s ear without the need for a custom earmold. With very minor tweaks to the physical body of the hearing aid, an open fit can be customized for the individual. Open fit digital hearing aids also benefit the patient through advanced hearing aid technology that provides more natural hearing. By allowing sound to pass through to the ear canal unprocessed by the aid, and then combining it with amplified signals, open fit aids do not occlude or block the ear canal.
Unlike generations before them, baby boomers are more comfortable getting information about digital hearing aids online or over the phone, rather than in person. As a result, they may never have to enter the office of an audiologist at any point in the buying process. Instead, they can begin researching hearing aid technology by reading informative articles available on the internet. They can also call various audiologists to ask questions – both general and specific – before making a purchase.
When it comes time to buy digital hearing aids, that too can be done over the internet. Even if the buyer is not a candidate for an open-fit (something that would be determined through the early stages of research into hearing aid technology), they can request a fitting kit from many audiologists and create an earmold themselves – again without needing to actually visit an office. They can get several prices before making a decision and then make the final purchase online or over the phone. Finally, as previously noted, today’s buyers can adjust their digital hearing aids online, or get technical support over the phone.
As hearing aid technology matures, those in the baby boomer generation are finding that they can take matters into their own hands. From researching the right digital hearing aids to fitting and buying the aids to making adjustments, baby boomers no longer have to spend time and energy visiting a vendor store or office when they need hearing aids. Instead, they can take advantage of the Internet and telephone to cover all aspects of the process.