The early history of hearing aid design

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Hearing Aids have had a long, arduous history throughout the years since they were first marketed more than 120 years ago. The large and cumbersome hearing devices of the past do not mix well with the ever changing, fast paced world we live in. Thanks to advances in technology, the devices of today are quite smaller, certainly sleeker in design, and more capable of mimicking the sense of human hearing. Here is a brief history of their transformation over the years.

Ear trumpets and conversation tubes

A cupped hand around the ear can boost the volume of sound you receive. With that being said, just think about what a long cup-shaped funnel could do in boosting sound. This may have been what inspired the invention of conversation tubes and ear trumpets. Non-electrical assistive listening devices have been around since the middle of the 18th century. A page from Montgomery Ward’s 1894 catalog shows illustrated designs for three different models of ear trumpets and ear tubes.

The truth is that ear trumpets didn’t really amplify sound and actually just collected it from the user’s surroundings, dialing it right into the ear canal.

Body aids

Ear trumpets and conversation tubes were popular well into the 20th century. The invention of the carbon microphone at the turn of the 20th century ushered in a new hearing aid design.

The first electrical hearing aids were called Carbon hearing aids. Using carbon granules packed in a cylinder to produce a scratchy sound, these devices only benefited those with mild to moderate hearing loss.

The part of the device which covered the ears looked similar to a headset. Wires connected it to a bulky battery and the user would carry or attach a microphone to their clothing.

Ear-level hearing aids

With the invention of the integrated circuit, hearing aid manufacturers found ways to miniaturize the process even further. The microchip allowed ear-level hearing aids to come into fruition and could now fit discreetly behind the ear.

By placing the microphone at ear level, natural sound was achieved for the first time. Users could wear two devices and achieve bilateral hearing amplification. The zinc-air battery first appeared on the scene in the late 1970s, and because of it, battery life doubled.

Over the past 60 years, hearing aid design has made many dramatic changes, and now miniaturized circuitry in comfortable and efficient models that are small and discreet. If you are interested in hearing aids, visit our website to schedule a free evaluation. Our expert team of hearing health professionals are your best source for correcting hearing loss and helping you achieve healthy hearing. Find a clinic near you today!