My dad, who will be 92 next month, got some new hearing aids a couple of weeks ago. I got to go with him to the VA audiologist. Let me just say it this way: hearing aids are NOT boring technology! There is a tremendous amount of processing going on inside. The units he received were from Phonak, and they are part of the Exélia Art product line (these links change often so don't be surprised if it goes stale). Some of my quick notes: these things (as a pair) "listen" for voices, and when they "hear" a voice, they supress out most other noise. They know the difference between a male voice and a female voice, and they can adjust to either one. They are quite programmable, although the audiologist said that out of the box, they "just work."
This particular model has only one physical adjustment, volume, and that doesn't get used much. These little things are smart! If they notice that the volume is always adjusted, for instance, when a female voice is detected, they learn to make that adjustment automatically! If you adjust the volume on one ear, it tells the other ear to make the same adjustment.
For people like my dad, who have a lot of high-frequency hearing loss, these things shift the audio into a frequency he can hear. The units recognize when he's on the phone, and not only shut out other noises at the time, they also play the phone into both ears at the same time!
These devices have logging, to determine what environments the user is in, and to record what it did to improve the sound in that situation. The audiologist can review this info at the next appointment and make adjustments, if needed. Oh yeah, the firmware is upgradable and new releases come out a couple of times a year. Here's a list of some of the other features:
EchoBlock - Understand well in echoey environments
SoundRelax - Eliminating annoying sounds
Real Ear Sound - Natural sound orientation
WindBlock Management - Suppresses wind noise
NoiseBlock Processing - Premium comfort in background noise
SoundFlow - Continuous and instant optimization to all environments
VoiceZoom - Speech intelligibility
WhistleBlock Technology - Feedback free hearing
Acoustically Optimized Venting (AOV) - Minimum occlusion
QuickSync - Control both instruments with one touch
My hearing is mostly OK, but these things are so impressive I want a pair. Oh, wait, there's a catch. The price is nearly $10k for the pair! OK...guess I'll wait unti the technology has been around a bit longer.
Still, all fascinating stuff.