16 Jan The benefits of binaural hearing
The ancient philosopher, Zeno, once said: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” While it is a great lesson, it is not the real reason why we have two ears. We have two ears for the same reason we have two eyes.
Let’s start with eyes. Together, our two eyes allow us to have depth perception. This also allows us to see in 3D. Our two eyes allow us to see, with peripheral vision, about 170 degrees around us. Have you ever tried to walk with one of your eyes closed? Do you feel a little off balance? Our two eyes let us know, visually, where we are in space.
Our two ears provide a similar benefit. Two ears allow us to hear in “stereo.” When we listen with two ears, we actually hear better! More importantly, they work together to tell us where a sound is coming from and help us focus on the voice we want to hear. Our two ears tell us, sound-wise, where we are in space. This spatial awareness is sometimes referred to as “presence.”
How hearing aids handle two ears
Until recently, when we wore two hearing aids, they worked independently. This meant that each ear was treated like it was the only ear we had. There was no communication or a joint effort. So, while our ears were trying to work together, the hearing aids (or the signal provided to the ear) were not.
The best hearing aids today — like our line of iQ hearing aids— now have a feature called ear-to-ear functionality or binaural imaging. This allows the two hearing aids to work together like our two ears do naturally. Why is this important? There are several reasons.
Envision yourself at a restaurant. There are people all around you talking, the wait staff is asking what you want and your friends at the table are all talking.
With ear-to-ear functionality, the two hearing aids actually share information about what is going on around you. This allows the hearing aids to make an intelligent decision of what to do to keep you comfortable and help you follow the conversation!
Simple control of hearing aids
Another perk of ear-to-ear functionality is your ability to adjust both hearing aids by touching one. If you need to change the memory or setting, you only have to touch one hearing aid. When that hearing aid changes settings, it will tell the other hearing aid to change so that your hearing aids are always in the right setting and working together!
Improved phone conversations
Imagine holding the phone to one ear and hearing the call in both ears. Ear-to-ear functionality allows this as well. We know phone conversations can be difficult when you have hearing loss, particularly in a busy environment. With ear-to-ear functionality, the phone call is sent to both ears, potentially increasing your ability to follow the conversation and decrease the interference of background noise!
Our two ears are designed to work together. With ear-to-ear functionality, our hearing aids can too!