Since the invention of the microprocessor, modern technology has moved us forward to produce smaller and smaller products. Sure, phone screens are becoming bigger. However, you’ll be surprised to learn that they’re still smaller than their historical counterparts. It would have been unthinkable only a few decades ago for a person to be able to hold a computer in the palm of their hand. Yet, most people now carry a pocket-sized computer in the form of a smartphone with them wherever they go.
Hearing aids have also played an essential role in the long evolution of small electronics. The social stigma associated with hearing loss has been a significant driver of electronics miniaturization. This sad social reality has sparked a need to conceal assistance devices like hearing aids. The smaller they are, the easier it is for someone to hide their use of the device. This social principle has influenced the creation of a wide range of small hearing devices and other technological fields.
We can even argue that the historical demand for hidden hearing aids paved the way for the small electronics in smartphones.
The history of hearing aid miniaturization
People have been using hearing aids for a long time, even before electronics were invented. The hearing trumpet was one of the most common gadgets centuries ago. This simple device features a small aperture on the outer ear’s threshold and a large opening to the world. This device, when curled forward, can be used to amplify a person’s voice standing immediately in front of them and broadcast that sound directly to their eardrum. Even though this device had some utility, it was glaringly obvious, and many individuals considered it embarrassing to use it.
As a result, deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing-impaired people, as well as their allies, have been involved in a protracted process of developing hearing aids that are less visible to others. Before World War II, these pioneers reduced the size of electrical components and made device assembly more compact than before. These components found their way into a wide range of applications.
After WWII, hearing aid users became the primary market for these tiny components, such as printed circuits, transistors, and later integrated circuits. Between their first use in hearing aids and now, these components have found applications in a wide range of devices, including audio amplification and music devices, and microphones and speakers in smartphones. These pioneers bring small electronics into the mainstream and figure out how to manufacture them at consumer-friendly prices.
Undoing the stigma of hearing loss
Even though these discoveries are actually ground-breaking technological advances, they were motivated by an uncomfortable reality. Many people have always wanted to keep their hearing loss hidden from others. This fear of admitting hearing loss has had a positive side effect in electronics miniaturization, whether they regard it as a lack of independence, a sign of aging, or simply a discomfort they don’t want to address with others. However, the underlying force of that stigma motivates some people to avoid receiving the care they require.
But the future holds hope – hearing aids are becoming less stigmatized than ever before, thanks to the increasing use of other hearing amplification equipment like wireless earphones and Bluetooth receivers. Fewer people feel the need to hide their assistive devices now that many people use technology to improve their lives.
Those who prefer to keep their hearing aids secret can use devices that fit entirely inside the ear canal and are completely undetectable to others. On the other hand, many people are moving oppositely, proudly wearing their hearing aids and eager to share their experiences with others.
Treating Hearing Loss
If you have a family member who is still hesitant to tell the world about their hearing loss, now is a good time to talk about the alternatives for invisible hearing aids and the universal acceptance they may now expect when it comes to exposing their condition. Contact us today to set up an appointment!