How hearing aids have evolved over the years


Hearing aids have come on leaps and bounds in terms of technical advancements, bringing added benefits and a better hearing quality to those affected with hearing loss compared against those from hundreds of years ago.

A history of hearing aids

Until the late 19th century, the most modern hearing devices were ear trumpets. These were acoustic funnels or tubular-shaped devices that the affected individual held in one hand as the narrow tube collected and funnelled sound to the ear. Ear trumpets came in a range of materials such as wood, silver and brass and sizes from six to 12 inches long.

It wasn’t until the invention of the telephone in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell that technology began influencing hearing aids and amplification. In 1878, Thomas Edison saw an opportunity and invented a carbon transmitter for the telephone which allowed for amplification of the electrical signal. This increased sound levels by 15 decibels (dB).

The invention of the telephone influenced hearing devices.The invention of the telephone influenced hearing devices.

Fast forward to 2017 where researchers from Columbia University have devised a hearing device which allows the aid to work with the brain to pick out a ‘main’ voice out of a crowd1.

What did the researchers discover?

A problem for many people living with a hearing impairment is trying to listen to one single conversation in a loud and packed environment. Therefore, the researchers created a hearing aid that closely monitors the brain’s activity to determine a main voice, which can then be amplified automatically1. This is done by separating each speaker from the deep neural network to then compare against the neural data from the user’s brain. The main voice is chosen from the speaker that best matches the neural data.

The Oticon OpnTM hearing aid processes sounds 50 times faster than other devices.

What do Western Hearing offer?

Although we are ever closer to cognitively controlled hearing aids, Australians can already make use of advanced technological hearing aids right here at Western Hearing Solutions. Discover Oticon OpnTM – a hearing aid that processes sounds 50 times faster than other devices. It puts you in charge of which sounds you want to focus on, creating a highly effective and effortless experience.

We also offer no cost* hearing assessments for people over 26 years of age. Check your auditory abilities today by calling us on 1800 940 981 or request your appointment here.

1Columbia Engineering, Cognitive Hearing Aid Filters Out the Noise. Accessed September 2017