The Evolution of the Hearing Aid

August 15, 2015 6:30 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Hearing aids are aptly named—they’re small devices that aid a person in hearing. Hearing loss can happen for many reasons. Maybe it happened when you were born or your hearing has deteriorated in your old age or it’s impaired due to trauma, but now in this digital-age you can be fitted with the best possible hearing aid that matches your style and your unique hearing loss.

Let’s look at the hearing aid then and now to see how hearing technology in Salinas and worldwide has evolved through time.

  • Ear trumpets, also called acoustic hearing aids, date back to the 17th century and became commonplace by the late 18th century. Before the discovery of electricity, the handheld cone shaped device used its funnel shape to amplify sound and worked by collecting sound waves that would lead directly into the ear canal.
  • The vacuum tube hearing aid was the first wearable hearing aid. Introduced in the 1920s-1930s, it was a thin wire connected to a small earpiece, which was attached to an amplifier-receiver that could be clipped to a person’s clothes, then the receiver was wired to a battery pack strapped to their leg. Believe it or not, the vacuum tube hearing aid weighed seven pounds. Compared to today’s hearing aids, seven pounds was more like a ton!
  • The first hearing aid that could be worn entirely up to the ear was introduced in 1957. Attached to a pair of glasses, the electronic components of the hearing aid were housed in the temple pieces of a pair of eyeglasses—these hearing glasses were a welcomed upgrade to the ear trumpet and vacuum tube. And, with the development of technology and electronics, a whole new world of possibilities began to open up. The 1960’s version of the hearing aid was much smaller. It could be placed inside the ear and was connected by a wire to the amplifier and battery unit, which clipped to the ear.
  • The first fully digital models began to debut in 1996, and in 1999 got even smaller and more discrete as a completely-in-the-canal hearing aid. It had greater flexibility and adjustability that catered to the wearer’s needs.

Today, thanks to Bluetooth technology, wearing hearing aids does not mean you are limited in using technology, i.e. your cell phone and music players. Before, you had to remove your hearing aids in order to talk on your cell due to interference or use earbuds to listen to music. Wireless hearing aids use Bluetooth to make it possible for you to connect with personal electronic devices that send signals directly to the hearing aid.

From the early hearing aids known as ear trumpets all the way up to now with fully digital and in-ear hearing aids, the possibilities are positively astounding. It is amazing how tremendously hearing technology has grown over time and will continue to evolve in the future. To find your best hearing aid match and to benefit from hearing technology in Salinas, contact the professionals at Valley Hearing Center today.

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