The Hearing Aids Evolution
History did not account if cavemen were using a device to assist those without hearing. Hearing aids were initially mentioned in a book, entitled Natural Magick by Giovanni Battista Porta in 1588. He wrote about a wooden-hearing device resembling the ears of animals with superior hearing abilities.
The odyssey of the hearing aids traced its tremendous leap from a wooden-hearing device to tiny hearing aids today equipped with the latest in modern technology.
The Trumpets of 1600s & 1700s
For almost two centuries, “trumpets” were very popular as aids to hearing. Made wide at one end to collect sound, it was narrow at the other end to project sounds into the ear. Materials used animal horn, glass and sea shell and later from copper and brass. Some were custom-designed in varied shapes based on customer’s preferences. One popular user was piano whiz Ludwig van Beethoven.
Bone conduction in 1700
In the bone conduction, sound vibrations were transmitted through the skull to the brain. Devices, shaped like tiny fans, were placed behind the ears to gather sound waves and directed through the small bones behind the ear.
Decorative accessories and ear tubes of the 1800
In the 1800s, large hearing aids were hidden and designed as decorative accessories. It was integrated as part of the clothing, head wear and bouffant hairstyles. As camouflaged, they were covered in flesh-colored or hair-colored enamel. Even members of royalty built hearing aids right into their thrones.
When ear tubes were introduced, it was used like a telephone; one end was held to the speaker’s mouth, and the other end placed directly to the listener’s ear.
Hearing aids and electricity in 1900s
In the early 1900s, Graham Bells telephone invention encouraged the use of electronically amplified sound via a carbon microphone and a battery. These were a pack of cumbersome boxes containing the wires and a battery pack hang around the user’s neck. Thanks to the coming of smaller batteries, ubiquitous box and pack ere reduced in size.
In 1950, the invention of the transistor totally transformed hearing aid technology. Do you know that transistors were used in hearing aids two years before they were used in transistor radios? First, devices were “body aids”, then became ear-friendly instruments worn behind the ear or in the ear shell, or ultimately, within the ear canal.
Mid-1990: the coming of the digital hearing aid
Digital circuitry amplified sounds, reducing, filtering, and directing them as needed. It was possible to customize hearing aid programs to complement user’s lifestyle – soft for quiet home settings, amplification of voices in restaurants, diminishing wind noise on the golf course, etc.
Today’s Hearing Aids
Twenty-first century boosts of smaller, lighter and more powerful hearing aids. They are virtually invisible and can “intelligently” adapt to changing surroundings as people move through their day. Its accessories are beyond expectations. There would be much, much more in the future!
If you think you need a hearing aid, make sure that you get a hearing aid prescription. Also note that the programs on these devices may be modified, but ask your ENT doctor first before making any changes. We are specialist of hearing test & assessment, hearing aid prescription, and subsequent professional hearing aid services.
HK Hearing & Speech Centre
Specialist of Hearing test & assessment,
and Hearing Aid Prescription