GN Hearing announced the integration of Siri and a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) feature at CES 2019, but the details were scant at best. I managed to speak to Laurel Christensen (Chief Audiologist) from GN Hearing last week to get some more information. Let’s talk about Resound’s latest innovation.
The new Siri integration will allow you to use voice commands to Siri to control your hearing aids. That’s a pretty cool feature and it means more rapid control of the hearing aid settings for users. You’ll be able to ask Siri to change sound profiles with voice commands (for instance, turn up the volume in my left ear or change to the Restaraunt programme). But it doesn’t stop there.
GN Hearing will use the deeper integration with Siri to leverage the full features of the hearing aids and the data available on the phone. For instance, over time Siri will be used to recognise changing sound environments and offer you changes to your hearing aids. This feature leverages the environmental analyser on the hearing aids and combines it with Siri data.
Siri will also learn your preferences from your use of the Resound Smart 3D and Beltone HearMax app and will give recommendations based on your activities and sound environment on the lock screen of your iPhone or iPad. For instance, if you are in a restaurant environment, Siri will recommend an adjustment of your hearing aids for optimal hearing in this environment. You will get a simple notification on your iPhone lock screen and you can simply swipe to accept the changes.
An Upgrade For Existing Kit
This upgrade will be delivered to existing hearing aid users and isn’t restricted to the Quattro. In fact, users of the LiNX 3D and Enzo 3D ranges and the similar Beltone ranges will get the upgrade as well. That’s pretty cool and it seems to be a strategy that a few hearing aid brands are following.
The upgrade will be for the LiNX Quattro, the LiNX 3D and the Enzo 3D and the Beltone Amaze, Trust and Boost Aids!
I asked Laurel about upgrades and what I felt was a departure from the norm. She said that Resound had rolled out updates to their app before which were in truth updates to their hearing aids. So for Resound, this was just pretty much business as usual but with a twist.
That actually made a lot of sense to me as I really hadn’t made the connection before. Laurel said that the power of the Resound app (seriously powerful customisation) and the customisation that users could make actually delivered more opportunities for GN Hearing to learn how the aids could function better.
In essence, the machine learning that GN Hearing will use has more data points to learn from. That learning will then be used to make the hearing aids smarter. It will allow functionality to get better over time and Siri suggestions to improve.
You Said AI, Where’s The Damn AI Geoff?
Yes yes yes, I am getting to it. The cynical among us may have thought AI was just more fluff marketing speak, imagine! However, GN is leveraging the AI built into Siri to improve the user experience and the functionality of their hearing aids. So no, it ain’t fluff.
More than that, GN has devoted a research division to AI and how they will utilise it and integrate it into their hearing aids moving forward. They have also entered into a partnership with one of the most exciting companies in AI for audio and I am really intrigued with what will come out of that.
For the moment, I was happy to see that GN Hearing was making this innovative approach available for people who had already paid their money. Making the upgrade backwards compatible is a really cool move and I would imagine it will make existing users pretty ecstatic.
I have heard others talk about feature creep and how time and research should focus on the core function of hearing better. I think that both the Siri integration and the leverage of AI is actually core to that experience. I think innovations like this will make the hearing aids of the future function in a manner in which we can just dream about right now.
If we could use real-time AI to recognise noise signals and completely remove them from the processed signal instantaneously, no one would ever have problems hearing in noise again.