Hearing technology has come a long way over the years; however, one aspect of hearing loss that many hearing aids have difficulty addressing is trouble understanding speech in noise. Fortunately, some of today’s state-of-the-art devices can solve this problem utilizing deep neural networks (DNN) and artificial intelligence (AI).
Sensorineural hearing loss causes difficulty understanding speech in background noise. This type of hearing loss is caused by damage to the hair cells of the inner ear that convert soundwaves into electrical energy, which are then interpreted by the brain. This causes the quality and quantity of the signal sent from the ears to the brain to diminish over time, resulting in the brain expending more energy and effort to make sense of it.
DNNs may help improve the transmission of the neural code, making hearing easier on the brain.
It’s important to know what DNNs are to understand how they can help. DNNs are a subset of AI. They rapidly analyze large data sets so that they can teach hearing aids and other technological devices how to respond to data like a human would, all while verifying accuracy and making corrections.
DNNs are beneficial in hearing technology because they can help with speech enhancement. DNNs can be applied as “time-frequency masks,” meaning select sounds—like speech—are enhanced while other sounds are reduced. DNNs can also identify and separate multiple voices, selecting a primary voice to emphasize and secondary voices to reduce.
This feature can help hearing device wearers in a variety of settings. For example, at a restaurant or party, the hearing device can emphasize a conversation partner, allow other nearby voices at a reduced volume and minimize background noises such as dishes clinking.
If you’re curious about this technology, schedule an appointment with our providers. We’ll let you try these new devices risk-free and hear firsthand the difference DNNs can make. Call (415) 362-2901 to schedule.