It’s true that time marches on and one thing is for sure: hearing aids march along with it.
The recorded history of hearing aids goes back hundreds of years, from animal horns to ear trumpets, analog to digital, to high tech and new horizons.
With the design evolution of hearing aids, even invisible hearing aids are now available.
Will People Notice My Hearing Aid?
Since the 17th century, people have been dedicated to finding the very best hearing solutions – making them smaller, more powerful and more affordable.
Hearing aid devices come in a variety of shapes and sizes. From the larger more powerful BTEs (behind the ear) to the discrete IIC (invisible in the canal) which are almost invisible to the naked eye.
Chances are, no one will even know you’re wearing a hearing aid unless you tell them.
What they will notice, is if you’re not wearing one, because it will become more difficult for your friends, family and co-workers to communicate with you.
The Evolution of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids and other assistive listening devices have come a long way since the first rudimentary attempts at improving hearing. Hearing aid technology is always evolving but looking back through the years of technological advances, it certainly allows us to admire modern hearing aid technology.
17th – 18th Century: Ear Trumpet
These funnel-shaped devices originated in the 17th Century. They helped amplify sounds, while still being portable. However, these devices were generally bulky and had to be physically supported from below.
Later, smaller, hand-held ear trumpets and cones were used as hearing aids.
19th – 20th Century: Akouphone
Akouphone is the very first electronic hearing aid that was invented in 1898 by Miller Reese Hutchison.
It used a carbon transmitter so that the hearing aid could be portable. The carbon transmitter was used to amplify sound by taking a weak signal and using electric current to make it a strong signal.
It was later developed into smaller models, suitable for carrying in handbags and other accessories.
Vactuphone is the first vacuum-tube hearing aid. It was patented by a Naval engineer Earl Hanson in 1920.
The Vactuphone was used with the telephone transmitter to turn speech into electrical signals. After the signal was converted, it would be amplified when it moved to the receiver.
The hearing aid weighed seven pounds, which made it light enough to be carried.
The Vactuphone was battery-powered and portable. However, it was also expensive and fragile.
1940s: Transistor Hearing Aids
The development of transistors in 1948 by Bell Laboratories led to major improvements to the hearing aid.
Transistors were created to replace vacuum tubes; they were small, required less battery power and had less distortion and heat than their predecessors. These vacuum tubes were typically hot and fragile, so the transistor was the ideal replacement.
1970s: Analog/Digital Hybrids
In the 1970s, the microprocessor was created. This microprocessor helped to open up the door to miniaturisation of the hearing aid. They used a combination of digital and analog circuitry and were patented in 1977.
1990s: Digital Hearing Aids
The first completely digital hearing aid was developed in 1995, but only for audiological research. The first commercial digital hearing aid became available in 1996.
2000s: Invisible Hearing Aids
The world’s first invisible Hearing aid, the Lyric, was developed in 2008.
It sits within the ear canal and can be worn continuously for up to 3 months.
In 2012, a new and even smaller version of the Lyric was released – designed to fit most ear shapes.
We’ve come a long way from the days of ear trumpets, and hearing aids continue to evolve as technology advances.
Many hearing aids are “smart,” adapting to different listening situations without the intervention of the user.
Certainly, in the future, hearing aids will continue to increase in performance and comfort while decreasing in size – helping you to blend in and not stand out.
If you’ve been wanting to experience the benefits of hearing aids, we provide FREE TRIALS. Make a time with Karen to find out which device is right for you. Our main goal is to ensure you’re happy and comfortable with a hearing aid that works for you – call 1300 060 455 for any questions and to begin trialling our leading-edge hearing aids!