What is Digital Technology?:
The term digital is used for most of today’s current technology, from televisions to cell phones. Hearing aids today are digital which means incoming sound is converted into a series of numbers and is then processed using mathematical equations. Digital processing enables very complex manipulation of sound, for example, to separate speech from noise. A few digital instruments are capable of 1,800,000 calculations per second.
The digital technology within hearing aids allows separating sound into different frequency regions and amplifying each region selectively, depending on the hearing aid wearer’s hearing loss. The processing within hearing aids also enables different amounts of amplification for soft, moderate, and loud sounds, so sounds are audible, but loud sounds are not uncomfortable or over amplified. And, digital processing enables a natural sound quality with minimal distortion, resulting in excellent sound quality.
Digital hearing aids are programmable, meaning the hearing aid settings can be precisely fine-tuned and special features can be adjusted for each wearer by a hearing professional, using special hearing aid software on a computer. Hearing aids are programmed and customized for both the hearing loss and the preferences of the person who wears them.
In addition to basic digital hearing aid technology, many hearing aid manufacturers offer several levels of advanced features made possible with digital processing technology. Digital hearing aids continue to advance and have become much more automatic and are equipped with sophisticated features for people who regularly encounter dynamic listening situations. Examples of some of these advanced features, what they do and how they benefit the hearing aid wearer are:
Directional Microphones – Applies preference to sounds in front of the wearer and reduces sound from behind the wearer. This technology has been proven in studies to improve speech understanding in background noise. In some hearing devices, the focus point for speech can be to the right, left or behind the person. This enhances benefit in difficult situations such as in a car.
Noise Reduction -Determines if signal contains unwanted background noise and reduces the level of background noise if present. Background noise is less annoying and hearing aid wearer’s listening comfort is improved in noisy situations.
Feedback Management – Reduces or eliminates whistling that can often occur with hearing aid use. Hearing aid wearer’s comfort is improved from annoying whistling.
Wind Noise Reduction – Reduces the noise created from wind blowing across the hearing aid’s microphone(s). Designed to improve comfort for persons who spend a lot of time outdoors.
Data Logging/Learning – The ability of the hearing aid to track and learn digital technology the hearing aid wearer’s preferences in various listening environments. This information can assist the hearing professional in making future programming adjustments and allows the hearing aid to adapt to the wearer’s preferences.
Bluetooth Interface – Establishes a wireless connection between hearing aids and Bluetooth compatible devices. Designed to improve wearer convenience and use with devices such as telephones, computers, televisions, remote microphones, etc.