Hearing aids have come a long way since they were first created in the 17th century, and it’s not difficult to see how much technology has improved our processes over the years.
The Beginning for Hearing Aids
Hearing aids were first released in the 1600s, gaining popularity in the 1700s. However, unlike today’s devices that are small and compact, they were very large and hard to miss. Wide at one end and thin at the other, the style was known as “trumpet” as the creation resembled the popular musical instrument. However, they did work. The broad end captured noises and funneled them into the ear canal, amplifying the sound for the user.
Trumpets didn’t last long because the process of bone conduction soon surpassed the technology in the 18th-century. Allowing the wearer to hear sounds more clearly via small vibrations, the tech transformed hearing loss for thousands of people worldwide. The replacement of the trumpet design also meant bone conduction aids were much more discreet and less noticeable.
The 19th-Century: Concealment Takes Over
Although people were less worried about the appearance of hearing aids in the 17th and 18th centuries, this soon changed in the 1900s. Suddenly, with the introduction of smaller devices, there was a great demand for technology to hide the aid from view, especially in upper-class customers.
This would later happen in the 20th and 21st centuries, thanks to small parts manufacturing. Until then, people who were self-conscious of the devices would try to disguise them in their clothes and accessories, and some men would grow beards to make them less noticeable.
However, the advancement of technology in the coming years helped propel healthcare into a new realm.
Electronic Hearing Aids
As electricity became much more accessible, the first electronic aid was developed in 1898 called the Akouphone. It was small enough to carry, although it wasn’t until later it was small enough for handbags, so it was still a large apparatus to carry around.
Akouphone or Vactuphone quickly became archaic as digital earphones were released. This is because digital circuits, in particular, offered a greater level of sound while filtering out needless background noise. The circuits also came in the form of microprocessors, allowing manufacturers to create the most discreet hearing aid yet.
Hearing Aids Today
Building on the progressive work of centuries, modern hearing aids strike the ideal balance between small and unnoticeable, yet powerful. They are sleek and compact to the point where a new category exists—invisible hearing aids. Created in 2008, it’s hidden because it stays in the ear.
Currently, the best products on the market are increasingly smart. For example, some devices are capable of linking with another accessory, such as a TV or smartphone, via Bluetooth software. This provides wearers with a direct connection, eliminating more hurdles that stand between people who are hard of hearing and a comfortable lifestyle.