How ELEHEAR is Leveraging AI to Drive the Future of OTC Hearing Aids

How ELEHEAR is Leveraging AI to Drive the Future of OTC Hearing Aids


OTC hearing aids are an exciting new category of assistive devices for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. Costing far less than prescription hearing aids, OTC devices offer many of the same benefits, as well as features that are not available in traditional models.

One technology that is coming to OTC hearing aids is AI. In fact, it is already here in ELEHEAR’s Alpha Pro, which hit the market late last year.

ELEHEAR Alpha Pro OTC hearing aids

We spoke to Lens Watson, Public Relations Manager for ELEHEAR, at CES 2024 about how they leverage AI to make their products more effective at overcoming barriers for those with hearing loss and where they see AI taking OTC hearing aids in the future.

Leveraging AI

At the heart of ELEHEAR’s products is what they call their VoClear AI Technology. VoClear is composed of an AI algorithm derived from computational auditory scene analysis and deep learning, combined with hardware components on the device that are specifically designed to make voices clearer, especially in noisy environments. According to ELEHEAR, they categorize these functions into six “modules” that work together to enhance speech comprehension and minimize listening effort:

AI Feedback Control

Eliminates bothersome squealing feedback signals before they reach the entire system. It also employs a breaker signal to prevent the formation of feedback loops.

Directionality

Utilizes advanced multi-microphone technology to focus on the target speaker, maximizing the signal-to-noise ratio.

Directionality Enhancer

Analyzes the target sound from the directional microphones and further amplifi­es it in frequency bands dominated by speech.

Speech­ Enhancer

Through the ELEHEAR app, users can adjust the speech prominence based on their personal preferences.

Amplification

Leverages Wide Dynamic Range Compression and Automatic Gain Control Output to maintain a comfortable listening level across a wide range of input sound intensities and limits loud sounds, while preserving the audibility of softer sounds.

AI Noise Reduction

Composed of “sub-function blocks” – Noise Reduction, Wind Noise Control, and Dynamic Noise Cancellation – this module is based on deep neural networks to enhance speech clarity across a wide range of noises owners experience during real-world use.

Watson says that, despite the AI jargon, “It’s not about numbers or what kind of technology this is. The thing we tell our customers is that we want them to just go to a restaurant and give it a single test and you can hear how big the difference is.”

What the future holds for ELEHEAR and AI

ELEHEAR says that its vision for the future is to “redefine the narrative around hearing aids, transforming them from mere assistive devices into lifestyle enablers.” What does that mean for consumers?

Watson told us that around the middle of this year, they will be bringing a new device to market that will expand their hearing aids into a full “wellness” product. Features will include blood pressure monitoring, glucose monitoring, and other health-related measurements. Then AI can use these measurements to develop personalized plans for users.

How to learn more

Visit elehear.com to learn more about the ELEHEAR technology and purchase the AI-driven Alpha Pro OTC hearing aids.

[Image credit: Techlicious]



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