The recorded history of hearing loss goes back hundreds of years. Today’s hearing aid technology is still evolving, and has come a long way since the days of the very first attempts to improve hearing. When you look at the hearing aids of decades past, today’s modern hearing aid technology looksnothing short of amazing.
First Attempts at Improving Hearing
As early as the 13th century, people were using hollowed-out sheep and cow horns to help in hearing the world around them. The funnel shape of the horns served to collect and concentrate the sound, aiming it toward the eardrum. The ear trumpet was invented in the 18th century. These metal, funnel-shaped devices served the same purpose as the animal horns, to collect sound and direct it toward the ears. While ear trumpets were bulky and inconvenient, they were the only option available until the 19th century.
The First Electronic Hearing Aids
The combination of the invention of the telephone and the practical uses for electricity had a huge impact on the development of electronic hearing aids. People with hearing loss were amazed at how well they could hear over the telephone compared to their hearing abilities in person. One famous person who dealt with hearing loss, Thomas Edison, worked to improve this situation. He invented the carbon transmitter for the phone in 1870. This transmitter amplified the electrical signals and increased decibel levels, making it even easier for people to hear.
Hearing aid technology has always followed in the footsteps of tech improvements in other industries. In the 1920s, vacuum tubes were used to increase the sound level immensely. Transistor technology was popular in the mid-20th century, and innovators used them to create the first hearing aid that could be worn in the ear. In the late 20th century, tech went from analog to digital, allowing hearing aids to offer far greater flexibility and technical capabilities.
Today’s Hearing Aid Technology
With the ability to be programmed and personalized for each individual person based on their lifestyle, today’s hearing aids are adaptable to a variety of listening environments. With the wide variety of models available such as invisible products, hearing aids made to complement an iPhone, wireless accessories that work with hearing aids, and technology designed to give relief from tinnitus, people experiencing hearing difficulty have more options than ever before, for improving their hearing.