You might think that a spider lurking in your kitchen or the fly buzzing in your face at Lagoon Greenway is nothing but a nuisance. However, researchers see them as helpful in unlocking the secrets to better hearing aids.
Background Noise and Hearing Aid Limitations
You might be wondering how insects could possibly help anyone hear better. The answer is that they may hold the key to solving a common problem of hearing aid users: Understanding speech when there’s background noise.
Modern hearing aid technology lets you choose settings and filters to help minimize background noise. However, it can still be somewhat challenging to focus in on conversations and specific voices, especially in environments where multiple people are speaking at once.
Directional microphones have made understanding speech easier in places with background noise. Yet they are currently only available in behind-the-ear (BTE) models and still struggle with lower frequency sounds.
Providing Better Material for Hearing Aids
Research has shown that spider silk may be an ideal material to create better directional microphones in hearing aids with quality sound at all frequencies.
While the technology is likely years off, figuring out a way to mass-produce hearing aids with these types of fibers could improve hearing aid performance in key settings, such as:
- Large work meetings or conferences
- Busy restaurants
Optimizing Hearing Ability
Meanwhile, at the University of Toronto, researchers are studying the unique hearing ability of a small fly known as Ormia ochracea. These flies have extremely accurate directional hearing due to the design of their ears.
Unlike most other animals, Ormia’s eardrums are connected. This gives them the ability to quickly figure out which direction sound is coming from. Engineers hope to create sensor technology that can model the fly’s eardrum to improve the ability of hearing aids to localize sound.
Don’t Wait to Treat Your Hearing Loss
While these potential advances are exciting, don’t delay treatment waiting for them. If you’re experiencing signs of hearing loss, make an appointment for a hearing test as soon as possible.
These tests are quick, painless and provide immediate insight into the severity of your hearing loss. In most cases, your audiologist will recommend hearing aids. While these devices may not yet have spider silk, they still offer numerous benefits, including:
- Improved ability to follow conversations and focus on the sounds you want to hear
- Better mental and physical health
- Lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia
For more information or to speak with a hearing expert, call Aaron's Hearing Aid & Audiology Center today.