Until recently, hearing aids have been large, clunky devices that moderately amplified sound and often made the wear look absurd. Before electricity was discovered, ear trumpets were used by those hard of hearing in the 19th century. True to their name, ear trumpets were large bell-shaped objects placed in the ear and used to amplify sound. The first electronic hearing aids were attached to a battery pack that weighed three pounds! These battery packs eventually got smaller but the hearings aids were still large and attached by wires. It wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that hearing aids were developed to sit entirely on or in the ear.
These days, hearing aids are smaller and sleeker than ever. Gone are the days of the giant beige earpieces that sit heavily on the ear. Today’s hearing aids are tiny devices that can reside deeply inside the ear and are virtually invisible to others.
Tiny Hearing Aid Styles
The smallest types of hearing aid designs are devices that sit inside the ear canal, called completely-in-canal (CIC) or mini CIC hearing aids. A CIC hearing aid is molded to fit inside your ear canal, which renders it nearly invisible to outside observers. Unlike other hearing aid styles, the CIC model does not have any outside pieces or tubing.
Here at Audicus, we offer a completely-in-canal hearing aid called the Uno. Its tiny design allows users to wear it without feeling self-conscious about their hearing aids, and is perfect for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.
In-the-canal (ITE) hearing aids are also very small and offer cosmetic advantages. They sit in the shell of your ear, the bowl shaped part of your ear that you can see. Some ITE aids fill the entire shell, while other fill only the lower half. While these devices are not quite as hidden as CIC hearing aids, the ITE models are also very small and hard to see.
The Future of Tiny Hearing Aids
After so much development in the last hundred years, what can we expect the future of hearing aids to hold? Hearing aids and other wearable tech are getting smaller and more advanced each year. Scientists are working to develop hearing aids that are fully implanted in a wearer’s ear, and uses the body’s own energy to stay continually charged. Another technology that is in a clinical trial stage is the ear-lens, a device that is mounted on the eardrum and users laser signals to amplify and clarify sound.
While hearing aids have long been obtrusive devices, those who suffer from hearing loss can now look forward to incredible technologies that have made hearing aids smaller and more efficient than ever.