So? What part of “nearly-invisible hearing aids” don’t you get? We can turn on “the tube” to see the latest sci-fi creation. We’re educated. We “know” that you can beam energy and destroy spaceships. We know you can bounce energy off of internal organs and visualize hidden problems of tissue destruction or malformation. TV mysteries show strange dishes aimed at people far away to secretly hear their conversations. We even observe somebody with an obvious hearing problem failing to hear someone else in the room.
What decides what the answer really is.
Can it really be that “nearly-invisible hearing aids” are a real possibility? Let’s get real. If you know what you are looking for, if you are trained to see it, guess what. You will see it. That’s why “nearly-invisible hearing aids” are central to hearing aid marketing. Have you seen any old black and white movies? Cutting edge hearing technology of the times was portrayed in early talkies as a black box with wires. Earphones were plugged into the box.
That was almost 100 years ago. The body hearing aid grew out of those early vacuum tube models. The banana hearing aids people started parking behind their ears came along maybe 70 years ago. Early all-in-the-ear aids came along about 50 years ago. Recent years have brought us canal aids, deep-canal aids, and even implantable micro aids. Cochlear implants directly stimulate hair cells. We may see direct nerve stimulators in the future.
All aids connect our brain’s auditory cortex with our nervous system and our sensory system’s hair cells. They convey sound information coming from our environment. Our focus here is really on what is seen in this connection mechanism, the visible portion of the mechanism on the outside of the ear which we can see.
Each hearing aid has a microphone, processor/amplifier, receiver (speaker), and coupler to connect the mechanism to the ear. The parts can be built into one piece, as with the all-in-the-ear and the various canal-based aids. An “invisible” fiber lying within the ear’s concha may be added so that the aid can be removed by the user so the aid can be cleaned or new batteries inserted. Behind-the-ear aids with today’s tubing can be close to invisible, depending on hairstyle and size of aid residing above and behind the ear.
What the options could be for invisibility.
The “cosmetic” driver in hearing aid sales is significant. “Smaller” means “easier to camouflage” or “conceal.” If we want invisibility, we want a small hearing aid that can be concealed by hairstyle. A low profile allows concealment so the aid is not readily visible unless there is a close inspection. Any of today’s non-body aids and non-cochlear aids are “nearly invisible.” A hearing aid provider knows the options, so invisibility lies with the aid options you have and the cosmetic advice that a person has. Remember, “cosmetics” is both what you can see and what you can hide.
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