As with most forms of technology, wireless connectivity has hit the hearing aid market over the past few years. One of the major connectivity changes has been that of “Made for iPhone” (MFi) connectivity that uses a modified Bluetooth signal to connect the hearing aids directly to your iPhone or other Apple device. This connection allows for several applications that help improve sound quality and overall benefit for an individual with hearing loss. Let’s take an updated look at how hearing aids are able to interact with smartphones.
Hearing Aid Technology Overview
As of 2017 the majority of the six major hearing aid manufactures have direct to smartphone compatibility. There are two different connections that the hearing aids are able to make with smartphones: control connections and streaming connections. The control interface allows users to use their smartphones as remotes to make changes to the hearing aids and the streaming connection allows for any audio to be streamed through both hearing aids using the patient’s unique prescription that is based on the hearing test. The connections between the hearing aids and the device are a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connection that helps to conserve battery life. Due to the use of the BLE, streaming connections are only compatible with iPhone and Apple operating systems. Android-based smartphones are limited to control connections through a manufacture specific app.
When a patient’s hearing aids are connected to an iPhone he or she is able to have increased control over settings and the ability to create programs based on his or her specific needs in that unique environment. Using the app, patients can tell the hearing aids where they want to focus, adjust sound quality, control volume and even track a lost hearing aid. For patients who enjoy music, ibooks, podcasts, videos or TV from their phones, the hearing aids are able to act as wireless headphones and receive those inputs. The primary streaming function is designed for phone calls to be heard through both hearing aids and control ambient noise to help patients focus on the conversation.
The beauty of these hearing aids is how adaptable they can be. The hearing aids are designed to automatically transition depending on the listening environment you are in. They have the ability to be highly customizable if a patient likes to have control and smart enough to keep you comfortable with little to no effort.
If you or a loved one have noticed increased difficulties in communication and are ready talk about options for improving your hearing, Call ENT Audiology Center at (325) 437-3617 to set up your comprehensive hearing evaluation. ENT Audiology Center, “Helping You Hear Better So You Can Live Life Better.”