Hearing loss is nothing new. It has been around as long as humans. What has changed, however, are the appliances that help hearing-impaired people deal with it. Here are some things humanity has used to aid our hearing over the years.
Hearing Horns and Trumpets
Animal horns and seashells were once used to aid people who were hard of hearing. These were most effective when the speaker spoke directly into the opening, as they would pick up other sounds from the environment they were being used in. Although these devices go way back in history, it is surprising to realize that they were still the only means of helping people with a hearing problems into the 20th century. It took electricity and the telephone for anything better to be developed.
The First Electronic Hearing Aids
The combination of electricity and telephones contributed greatly to the invention of the first electronic hearing aids. The first US patents were filed for them as far back as 1892, but it was a few more years until the first one was commercially produced. Known as the Akoulallion, it was so large it had to sit on a table, and it cost a massive $400. That would be the equivalent in today’s money of roughly $11,500.
It was 1902 before the first practical electronic hearing aid became available. This was called the Acousticon, and electronic hearing aids were sold under this name until the 1980s.
Transistor Hearing Aids
During the 20th century, several new technologies were tried, vacuum tube technology probably being the most successful until the invention of the transistor by Bell Telephone Laboratories. This new technology allowed for the first hearing aids that were discreet, as they could be worn totally inside the ear or behind it. They were introduced in 1952, and over 200,000 transistor hearing aids were sold in 1953.
Smart Hearing Aids
As the name suggests, smart hearing aids are the latest development in this area and are able to cope with whatever level of hearing loss a sufferer has. They are not only extremely good at what they are meant for, but they are also practically invisible to anyone other than the user.
The way they function allows users to interact with other people in any environment, while at the same time cutting out background hissing and buzzing. They produce a much clearer sound that can over time be made to adjust automatically.
The big advantage of this is that a user can insert them into their ear first thing in the morning and not have to mess with them again until they take them out at bedtime. Most older style hearing aids have to be manually adjusted throughout the day.
They can also be connected to digital devices. If the wearer wants to listen to music through their smartphone, it is very simple to set up with the latest hearing aids.
Technology has made amazing strides in the last few years and all areas of our lives have been affected. For people with hearing difficulties, technology has made it possible for them to be more of a part of the world around them without anyone noticing they are wearing a device.