March 17, 2020
Hearing aids are nothing new, although the technology used in modern hearing aids is radically different from those of the past.
The first references to ear trumpets date back to 1634 and Jean Leurechon's work titled Récréations mathématiques, but in the early days many people used natural 'trumpets' such as animal horns to help funnel more sound into their ear.
It wasn't until 1800 that ear trumpets first went into commercial production, when Frederick C Rein opened a company to do just that based in London, and during the 1800s they gradually became smaller, more portable and easier to hide.
Towards the end of that century the telephone and microphone were invented, paving the way for electric hearing aids based on similar technology, and the first of these was the Akouphone patented in 1898 by Miller Reese Hutchinson.
The evolution of hearing aids continued throughout the 20th century, and in 1913 Siemens manufactured one of the first amplified electronic hearing aids.
By the middle of the century, Multitone of London had introduced wearable electronic hearing aids with automatic gain control -basically giving a steady output volume no matter how loud or quiet the input sounds were.
In the second half of the 20th century, transistors played a huge role in revolutionising electronic hearing aids, allowing them to be miniaturised and evolving them from bulky devices to the tiny, wearable hearing aids and invisible in-ear hearing aids we know today.
Since the start of the 21st century, modern hearing aid technology has continued to develop and gain new skills, particularly since the introduction of smartphones and other mobile devices like tablets.
Tiny invisible hearing aids can now sit at the surface of the ear canal, amplifying incoming sounds in a way that is closely tailored to the individual's level of hearing loss.
Your smartphone can act as a remote control - and it's even possible to stream directly to your hearing aid from compatible devices so that you can use it to take phone calls, listen to music or watch TV and movies.
A whole range of hearing aid accessories like home media servers help to make this possible, along with downloadable apps for major smartphone operating systems.
Finally, modern hearing aids don't just make sound louder -they can also make it clearer, while hearing aids for tinnitus can help tocombat distracting phantom sounds in the ear to help you get a better night's sleep.
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