HEARING AIDS THROUGH THE AGES

EAR TRUMPETS

Although more recent adaptations of this device were constructed from wood or metal, earlier examples of the ear trumpet can be found in snail shells and animal horns. It’s widely believed that the Ancient Greeks were the first to popularise its use, around 550 B.C, using hand-decorated seashells. It wasn’t until the turn of the 18th Century, when ear trumpets became more commonly used as a hearing aid - with Ludwig van Beethoven being one of the most recognised users.

1800s

Listening Tubes

In the late 1800s, and early 1900s, several devices were around that used long rubber tubes. These were called Conversation tubes - flexible rubber tubes which channel the sound to the listener. Featured in this picture is a tabletop design for use at dinner. You can imagine this was handy at home, but quite bulky to carry around.

1900s

ACOUSTICON

The ‘Acousticon’ was the device imported by Hans Demant, the founder of Denmark, for his wife Camilla. The same device was used by Queen Alexandra during her coronation in 1902. The device was so successful, that Hans Demant started selling the devices – and so began ‘Oticon’, which was to become one of the world leaders in hearing care technology.

1930s

First Transistor Hearing Aids

The Oticon T3 from 1953 was the first transistorised instrument in Europe. As from the days of hearing trumpets, it was not socially acceptable to advertise one’s hearing problem with a hearing device. In Victorian times, the trumpets were covered in leather & lace to make them more attractive. The Oticon T3 was designed to be disguised by jewellery, such as a string of pearls.

1950s

Behind The Ear

With the invention of transistors, hearing aids could become smaller and smaller. From the 1960s, ‘Over the Ear’ or ‘Behind the Ear’ models became more common. In ‘BTE’ models, all the electrical components are housed in a casing that sits behind the wearer’s ear. Sound is delivered via a ‘tone hook’, which connects to a plastic tube. The plastic tube is inserted into a custom made ‘earmould’, which sits snugly in the wearer’s ear.

1960s

In The Ear

The technological advances of the 1970s and 1980s included integrated circuitry and lithium batteries that allowed for smaller hearing aids with better noise reduction ability. As the name suggests, these hearing aids were worn inside the ear.

1970s

Automatic Hearing Aid

In 1991 Oticon introduced the first hearing instrument that was fully automatic. It was called ‘Multifocus’.

1990s

Digital Hearing Aids

Up until the mid 1990s, hearing aids were adjusted by the audiologist with a miniature screw driver. Tiny ‘trimmers’, or little dials were located on the back of BTE’s, or on the faceplates of an ITE device. These ’trimmers’ controlled the overall level of sound, and the balance of bass and treble. They were kind of like dials on a hi-fi system, only in miniature.

1990s

Options Available Today

Options Available Today

Invisible hearing aids

Spectacle Hearing Aids

In The Ear Hearing Aids

Receiver In The Ear Hearing Aids

Behind The Ear Hearing Aids

Options Available Today

Wireless Hearing Aids

The latest range of hearing aids now come with wireless processing connectivity. This has two key advantages. When worn as a pair they can communicate with each other and make decisions on what you should hear depending on the listening environment. Additionally, when using a streaming device, they can link wirelessly to TV's, landline and mobile phones and other bluetooth enabled devices.

2000s

Options Available Today

Invisible Hearing Aids

Hearing aid manufacturers have recently developed smaller components for digital hearing aids which means they can make the whole hearing aid smaller.  An impression is carefully taken of the inside of the ear canal and then the outside shell is custom made to fit the individual's ear.  Amazingly, they can fit even the most sophisticated processors deep inside the ear. In most ears, this really is an invisible hearing aid device when worn.

2010s

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

For more information on the styles of hearing aids available today, visit Hidden Hearing