The history of hearing aids does not sound like it should be of much interest to most people, even those who (like you) need these important tools. However, the weird past of hearing aids is filled with a variety of cool moments. The following hearing aid history lesson offers you a glimpse into where your hearing aid came from and where it's going.
Earliest Attempts to Correct Hearing
In ancient times, hearing loss was a confusing condition that people didn't understand how to treat. However, that didn't stop them from trying. According to ancient records, Egyptians once treated hearing loss by pouring a mix of odd materials directly into the ear. The ingredients for this mixture? Olive oil, red lead, bat wings, goat urine, and ant eggs. Yikes!
The ancient Greek's treatment was much less horrifying than this concoction: a scientist named Alcmaeon created a small horn that could be fit into the ear to amplify sounds. Variations of this device were used for centuries after its invention.
Invention of the First Portable Unit
While hearing devices definitely improved since Alcmeaon's hearing horn invention, the first truly portable unit wasn't invented until 1901. Created by Miller Reese Hutchinson, this unit (called the acousticon) could actually be worn on the ear, unlike its table-bound predecessors.
Unfortunately, the acousticon was still rather large and possessed batteries that lasted just a few hours. However, it was still a step in the right direction and one that showed that portable hearing aids were not a fairytale.
Introduction of "Behind the Ear" Hearing Aids
Variations on Hutchinson's bulky hearing aid were the norm for decades, until the invention of the very first behind the ear (or BTE) hearing aid in 1956. These smaller units fit comfortably behind the ear and were designed to be as inconspicuous as possible.
The major advantage of these units was their ability to generate binaural amplification. This process boosted the hearing in both ears and more accurately simulated real hearing. And while BTEs have gotten smaller and more powerful, they still retain the same basic concept.
The Potential Future of Hearing Aids
Hearing aid technology continues to advance at a quick pace. They continually get smaller, more powerful, and easier to use. However, one of the most recent upgrades might change the way hearing aid users approach their hearing correction forever.
The new concept? App-based hearing aids. These new devices are nearly invisible in the ear and are controlled wirelessly via any number of Bluetooth devices, such as smart phones. In fact, they can be attached directly to the output of the device to make phone conversations even easier.
Clearly the science of hearing aids has come a long way since the days of pouring bat wings in your ear. If you or someone you know is in the market for a hearing aid, talk to a specialist like Abingdon Falls Plaza Hearing Center today to learn about even more exciting upgrades coming in the future.Share