Hearing aids are wonders of modern technology, and they keep improving. As hearing aid technology advances, new features provide better hearing. The directional microphone is one of these new functionalities. This device allows its users to have a more natural listening experience, making it a popular addition to many modern hearing aids.
The traditional standard for hearing aids was the omnidirectional microphone. This type of microphone picks up on sounds from all directions equally. While this method works well in a quiet setting such as a living room, it is not conducive to noisier environments (such as a restaurant). In order to compensate for this, directional microphones focus closely on sounds emanating from the front. This allows you to hear what is being said in front of you while blocking out unimportant noise from the rest of the room.
Because both types of microphones have their own advantages, many hearing aid designers will incorporate both into their devices. How you use these microphones varies from device to device. Some devices utilize a small switch that allows the user to manually flip between microphones. Other hearing aids can automatically determine which method is most effective and switch itself to the optimum microphone.
Adaptive directional microphones are a third type of microphone. This device offers variation in the direction of amplification, automatically picking up on speech signals and focusing in on the direction they are coming from. Adaptive microphones can be troublesome in crowded environments where many speakers are present, but the user can usually switch to a forward only mode in these situations.
Directional microphones are included in hearing aids for all ages, but caution must be applied when this feature is used by kids. Because kids develop much of their language skills from listening to the people around them, a directional microphone may cause them to miss out on an important developmental experience. It may also reduce a child’s ability to hear traffic while playing. Parents should make sure that their child’s hearing aid has an on/off switch for the directional microphone and make sure it is only turned on when appropriate.
The advantages of the directional microphone outweigh its flaws, allowing it to dramatically increase its wearer’s ability to hear.