Hearing aids haven’t always been so streamlined and comfortable. In fact, they got off to a pretty rocky start. Today’s compact, comfortable, versatile and efficient hearing devices owe a lot to their predecessors, though. Here we’ll explore hearing aid technology that’s spanned the last two centuries, in particular through distinct time periods and technology advancements.
This owes a lot to the fact that millions of hearing aids are donned by people every day, with 17 percent of the population in America wearing them. Check out the several versions of designs and features hearing aids have gone through before settling on the modern ones we see today.
Ear Trumpets: A Primitive Start
Ear trumpets didn’t so much in the way of sound amplification for the truly hearing impaired, but they did form the basis for the industry. The idea that sound could even be amplified in the first place came from the idea of ear trumpets. They actually looked exactly as you are picturing them in your head. Indeed, they were large, clumsy, heavy and came in various horn shapes, with only the most basic incremental acoustic improvement to those who experienced hearing impairments. The funneled sound hit the inner ear where it was interpreted, but it didn’t really help deaf people or those with severe hearing impairments.
Carbon Hearing Aids: The Next Step
The next step with hearing aid technology came with the emergence in the 19th century of the carbon hearing aid. This model drew inspiration from Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone invention, in that it utilized a carbon microphone, magnetic receiver and battery to interpret sound. As the sound reached the microphone’s outside, the carbon would press up against the diaphragm and create sound. The drawback, though, was that there were very few frequencies and thus a lot of feedback, making for a subpar hearing experience.
The Third Development: Vacuum Tube Hearing Aids
Next up in the technology realm was the seven-pound vacuum tube hearing aid, which was touted by investors and the hearing impaired community as the next big thing. These came out in the 1920s as a precursor to modern hearing aids we know them in this day and age. Later adjusted by Bell Labs, the design incorporated the use of a transistor in hearing aids because the transmitter taken from a telephone could convert sounds that gathered into electrical signals to project sound. This sound emerged from the receiver end and gave hope to those suffering from hearing loss – the best advancement yet up to that point in terms of hearing improvements.
Call Today's Hearing at (281) 578-7500 for more information or to schedule an appointment.