Feedback suppression and speech enhancement. Bluetooth connectivity and hands-free calling. The ability to adjust your hearing aid via a companion app. These are just a few of the ways hearing aid technology has improved.

And it's still evolving. As for what the future holds? We spoke to several hearing experts on the matter — here's what we learned.

The Most Significant Current-Day Change in Hearing Aids

Hearing aid technology has evolved thanks to three core drivers.
  • Miniaturization. Through advancements in circuitry as well as rigorous work by hearing instrument specialists, modern hearing aids are so sleek and compact as to often be nearly invisible. It's a far cry from the cumbersome devices of yesteryear. Advanced circuitry and better hardware also allowed for the development of digital hearing aids, with both greater flexibility and better functionality.
  • Market competition. The hearing aid market is booming, and that's a very good thing. With so many vendors competing with one another to release the best hearing aid possible, they're both more accessible and of higher quality. Awareness of hearing aid technology has also increased, thanks in no small part to the 2017 OTC Hearing Aid Bill.
  • Customization. Having grown accustomed to modern mobile technology, hearing aid users want a more customizable, flexible experience with their devices. Already, hearing aid manufacturers have addressed this desire via their companion apps. This trend is likely to continue, with greater flexibility and more features being added as time goes on.

What's on the Horizon for Hearing Aids

Although it's impossible to predict exactly what the future holds, a few immediate advancements are very likely. First, hearing aid manufacturers will likely double down on Bluetooth connectivity, while hearing aids will become more compact, more robust, and longer-lasting thanks to hardware evolution. Hearing aids with plug and play features will likely be very prominent within the next several years, leading to the potential for a new software and hardware ecosystem. 

Hearing Aids Five Years Down the Road

To get the clearest picture of where hearing aid technology may be headed, one only needs to look at the multitude of smart devices now available for consumers.

Fully-integrated health monitoring systems, heads-up displays, and artificial intelligence (AI) are driving an enormous transformation in consumer technology. Hearing aid manufacturers are, in all likelihood, going to ride the wave of this transformation, connecting seamlessly with a wide range of Internet of Things devices including wearables, AI assistants, and smart home appliances.

AI won't just be integrated into hearing aids themselves. Machine learning and data analytics will likely also play a role in hearing aid fittings and evaluation, reducing costs, and improving outcomes for hearing impaired patients. This is just the beginning, too — where hearing aid technology is concerned, the sky is truly the limit.