Self-Fitting Hearing Aids: State of the Art, Challenges, and Future Trends

Ruiyu Liang, Cairong Zou, Qingyun Wang
2016 International Journal of u- and e- Service, Science and Technology  
The global aging leads to a dramatic increase in the demand for hearing aid. However, the lack of hearing care institutions and hearing professionals makes high price of hearing aids, which hinders the widespread use of hearing aids, especially in the developing countries and the remote areas of developed countries. Compared to the teleaudiology, the self-fitting hearing aid can be installed, fitted, and managed by the users themselves. The whole process hardly needs any professionals and
more » ... l equipments. Although the research of self-fitting hearing aids is in its infancy, it has significant theoretical value and application prospect. At present, except for some commercial attempts to the self-fitting hearing aids, there are still some problems to be imminently solved. In this survey paper, an overview of the state of the art and prototype design for the self-fitting hearing aid is provided. Then, the challenges for self-fitting hearing aids are discussed. Finally, the future trends of self-fitting hearing aids are prospected. 2 Copyright ⓒ 2016 SERSC processes depend on the skills of the hearing professionals. When problem arise, hearing patient firstly seek help from their hearing professionals even though the problem is very small. This undoubtedly wastes a lot of time. In addition, qualified hearing professionals in developed and developing countries are all woefully inadequate. The outflow of talented hearing professionals make related services of hearing aids in developing countries lag further behind developed countries, which restricts the development of hearing aids and increase the additional cost in developing countries indirectly [9] . Teleaudiology is an effective solution to the problem of lacking hearing professionals [5] . This technology is mainly applied in the remote hearing diagnose, hearing test, regulation and consultation for hearing aids. It can effectively overcome some shortcomings, such as long distance, high cost, and lack of professional institutions in remote areas and increase accesses to hearing services [10] . Surveys show that 75 percent hearing-impaired patients with moderate to extremely severe hearing loss are more willing to remote hearing service [11] . Unfortunately, since doctors and patients may come from different countries, there are many urgent problems to solve, such as qualification, responsibility, reimbursement, quality control and so on. Besides, the establishment and maintenance of hearing networks still depends on professionals. The professionals can assist patients to obtain information and guidance. These problems have seriously affected the development speed of American teleaudiology [12] . With the wide penetration of smart phones, teleaudiology is bound to become the access point to provide services, which include information, education, screening, possible diagnosis and intervention [13] [14] [15] . From the design conception, self-fitting is the best choice to solve the problem of lacking hearing professionals [16] . The essence of self-fitting is that the installation, fitting and usage of hearing aids are completed by the user himself without any hearing experts and equipment. In 1984, Köpke, Wiener, et al,. mentioned that pure tone signal generated by pure tone generation inside the hearing aid could be used to measure the patient's hearing threshold, and a transfer function is designed to generate suitable configuration parameters for hearing aids [17] . This is the basic conception of self-fitting hearing aids, which hasn't been achieved till today. But some primary products of selffitting hearing aids have come out which is based on one point that using hearing aids without professionals. These products are mainly divided into two categories: userprogrammable hearing aids and customized hearing aid for developing country. In addition, around the commercialization of self-fitting hearing aids, the design of professional instruction materials [18] and the research of ear molds, batteries and distribution models, etc., are being carried out simultaneously. However, how can patient without little professional knowledge make effective diagnosis towards some problems, such as how to identify asymmetrical hearing loss, conductive hearing loss or sudden hearing loss caused by earache, physiological ear deformity or active infection? All these problems will affect the fitting. Whether Hearing aids can solve these problems has a lot of unknowns and need to be further studied. In 2011, Lena L. N. Wong summarized the four characteristics of self-fitting aid and assess it using six-level criteria [19] . Results show that two kinds of technology for selffitting hearing aids have been relatively mature: 1) Hearing aid can automatically assesses the patient's hearing level; 2) Traditional fitting methods will obtain the parameters which are similar to the initial set as patient like. However, whether a patient can get better results by training or complete the assembly and use of hearing aids under the prompt, the current study is still insufficient. According to the research for self-fitting aids, this paper describes the design concept, prototype theory and the current developments of self-fitting hearing aids in detail, overviews the latest theoretical results and applied research related to self-fitting aids, describes the research progress in the world, discusses the open issues, and focuses on the future direction of self-fitting hearing aids. 12 Copyright ⓒ 2016 SERSC 3) Provide services for future complex hearing devices, such as devices integrated with hearing aids and cochlear implantation [21] .
doi:10.14257/ijunesst.2016.9.8.01 fatcat:sy6srwmctvddvppzbdwbgdnvle