2006: The Year That Hearing Aids Began to "Learn"
Perfect high tech in a compact space – Siemens redefined what hearing aids were capable of with its “Centra” product range. Not only did the leading edge technology set new standards in comfort for wearers worldwide, it also stored the favored volume settings of each individual user and adjusted itself accordingly thanks to so-called “data learning”.
Once the wearer had adjusted the volume in a specific situation, the system would remember this and reproduce those adjustments the next time it was switched on. This was not simply a one-off; as the hearing requirements of the user changed, so the system remembered the latest changes, resulting in a continuously learning hearing aid capable of adjusting itself on a daily basis if required.
A new kind of intelligence
Even though hearing aids had previously been described as “intelligent”, that intelligence was merely passive, limited to hardcoded automatic situation recognition. The revolutionary Centra hearing aids were the first anywhere in the world to be able to actively learn additional information regarding their settings based purely on the personal preferences of each user in a wide variety of situations.
Two examples illustrate the system’s advantages: If the wearer increased the volume while on the telephone, the hearing aid remembered this through data learning and automatically increased the volume during subsequent phone calls. The same principle applied when listening to music. Centra was not the first hearing aid to recognize when the wearer was listening to music, but it was the first to remember the user’s preferred settings for maximum musical enjoyment.
The most remarkable feature of all was that this learning process was never finished. The hearing aids adjusted to every new change in preferences, ensuring a higher quality of life for every wearer.