Older style hearing aids limited your access to personal audio devices such as mobile phones and music players. For example, in order to use a music player while walking, you would have had to remove your hearing aids to accommodate a pair of earbuds. However, today’s sophisticated wireless hearing aids, such as Oticon Opn and Siemens Signia Nx, make it possible to connect with personal electronic devices to directly stream signals to your hearing aids using Bluetooth technology.
Bluetooth is a wireless communication platform that allows the transfer of data between two or more electronic devices. The technology uses radio waves set to a high frequency to transmit data without interference or security risks. A wide variety of products incorporating Bluetooth connectivity have been developed, including mobile phones, music players, computers, tablets, cars and televisions.
A full implementation of the Bluetooth standard requires a greater power supply than can be generated within the small footprint of a hearing aid battery, so actual “Bluetooth hearing aids” are not currently on the market.
However, manufacturers of wireless hearing aids created a clever solution for accessing this wireless standard. Initially, wireless hearing aids used compatible assistive listening devices, often called streamers, to provide a communication link between the wireless technology in the hearing aids and any Bluetooth-enabled device.
More recently, Apple patented a specific Bluetooth connectivity so certain hearing aids, like the GN ReSound LiNX and the Starkey Halo, can communicate directly with the iOS platform that runs iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices. This technology is designed to allow the devices direct connection without stress on the battery power. Several hearing aid manufacturers have released hearing aids that implement this Bluetooth technology, marketed as Made for iPhone.
If you want to connect with your mobile phone, tablet, computer, music player or other Bluetooth-enabled device, we can recommend wireless hearing aids which can be paired directly to an Apple device (often labeled as Made for iPhone).
For example, the Oticon Opn hearing aids stream sound directly from Apple devices (iPhone, iPad) and use a ConnectClip device to stream from Android and other Bluetooth devices.
A recent breakthough by Phonak, alows the Phonak Audeo B-Direct range of hearing aids to stream sound directly from an Android device (e.g. Samsung mobile phone) to the hearing aid, without the need for an intermediate streaming device. While this has been heralded as a 'game-changer' in the industry, there are some limitations with this cutting-edge technology.
The audio signal can usually be set to stream to one or both hearing aids and the streamed signal can be amplified and shaped to match your hearing aid’s personalised settings. The volume of the stream may be controlled by the streamer, the hearing aids or the smartphone app, depending on the manufacturer’s design. In the case of a music player, the hearing aids can become a set of wireless ear buds. For a phone, it may be desirous to stream the signal to just one hearing aid so as to keep the other one accessing the other sounds in the room. This hands-free solution sure beats trying to position the mobile phone receiver close to your hearing aid microphone!
Multiple devices can usually be paired so you can easily switch between different devices. For example, you can be connected to your mobile phone while you’re streaming a movie from your tablet. You can then interrupt or pause the audio from your tablet in order to bring you the audio signal from an incoming phone call.
Commonly, there are also capabilities for remotely changing the volume or program from the streamer. This is especially useful if your hearing aids are too small to accommodate external controls.
Last but not least, Bluetooth is an electronics industry standard protocol. It’s not unique to a particular hearing aid or hearing aid manufacturer, so there is uniformity in the way that it works across all devices. The platform has been tested and refined already, as it’s been in use for many years in the mobile phone industry. The Bluetooth connection is secure and there’s no interference.
Bluetooth-enabled streamers are assistive listening devices that have greatly elevated the hearing aid wearing experience and enable hearing aids to double as highly-personalized, custom audio devices. It’s an example of using today’s wireless hearing aid technology in a smart way that truly provides convenience for hearing aid wearers.
To use your hearing aids to stay connected to your network of friends and family and all of your latest audio devices, contact HEARING SAVERS on freecall 1800 00 4327 or firstname.lastname@example.org about wireless hearing aids, Bluetooth streaming and Made for iPhone hearing aids.