By Zippy Spanjer
You’ve heard of Siri and Alexa. You might have a FitBit or an Apple Watch. Meet the newcomer in artificial personal assistants, now with added disability mitigation: the Livio Edge AI hearing aid.
The basic purpose of a hearing aid is to magnify sound for individuals who have some degree of hearing loss but also some degree of residual hearing. According to the National Institutes of Health, one in eight Americans over age 12 has some hearing loss in at least one ear. Hearing-assist devices have existed for over four hundred years, dating back to ear trumpets in the 1600s. Electronic hearing aids have been around since the 1900s.
Now, Starkey, Inc. has come up with a breakthrough technology in hearing assistance: the Livio Edge AI hearing aid. It has all the sound-amplifying capabilities of a basic hearing aid, plus some novel AI features. It has rechargeable batteries and can be calibrated to muffle background noise, which is a huge challenge for hearing aid users. Its built-in AI system can analyze surrounding sounds to determine the best volume and processing mode, such as boosting speech sounds from people wearing masks.
It can also connect to a cellular phone via bluetooth, where it can be used for talking on the phone, streaming music, and more. For those who download Starkey’s Thrive Hearing Control app (available through the Apple App Store and Google Play), there are even more options. A user can use their phone to find lost hearing aids or use their hearing aids to find a lost phone. The app has tech support for those who want to make the most of their hearing aid usage, as well as a health tracker, reminder list, and translate and transcribe options. That is, the phone can translate or transcribe sounds heard by the Livio Edge AI hearing aid. The app also has a fall detection system, which is useful because 25-50% of senior citizens have hearing loss.
As can be expected, this technology does not come cheap. The Livio Edge AI hearing aid costs $3,500 without insurance, but payment plans are available and it may be covered by some insurance plans. For comparison, a basic hearing aid costs between $500-$1,000. This is obviously a huge expense, but the hearing aid is a daily-use device that improves quality of life and can last for many years.
Disability assistance technology is growing in leaps and bounds. While other multi-feature hearing aids exist, the Livio Edge AI hearing aid is the first to combine hearing assistance with artificial intelligence. Starkey, Inc.’s contribution to the assistive technology world will help improve the lives of thousands.