Most hearing aid manufacturers have introduced wireless interface hearing aids in to their modern line up. The use of wireless communication technology meets two needs, the communication of one aid with another, and the communication of the aids with external sources. Every manufacturer has introduced ancillary devices that can now be used in tandem with their hearing aids such as remote microphones, television audio streamers, and connection devices for cellphones.
The devices open up the opportunity to communicate with ease where once there may have been issues. A regular problem for hearing aid users was talking on a cellphone, with the new devices problems understanding have almost been eliminated. Whilst the ability to communicate with differing external devices is exciting in its own right. The ability of the aids to communicate with each other has opened up the ability of the manufacturers to introduce new features and deliver old ones in a better way.
Because the hearing aids are now speaking to each other, passing massive amounts of data between them, for the first time hearing aids can act as a pair. Most of the manufacturers have used this ability to introduce sound that is presented to a hearing aid user in a natural way. Preserving natural cues that normal hearing uses to localize and ignore sound. The concept, and it does appear to be right judging the success that is reported, is that if we can deliver normal sound cues, the brain will be able to process the information better.
The Widex Clear Hearing Aids
The very first hearing aids introduced with this feature, named binaural processing, was the Clear from Widex. However since then, Widex have introduced a new platform with an upgraded version and nearly all of the manufacturers have introduced hearing aids that use the strategy in one form or other. Siemens, Phonak Oticon, Starkey and GN Resound to mention a few have introduced some form of binaural processing in their modern line up. Starkey and GN Resound however, have done something really exciting with their wireless hearing aid strategy.
Made For iPhone Hearing Aids
GN Resound were the first to market with the Linx Made For iPhone hearing aids, although Starkey followed closely enough behind with the Halo. Whilst both manufacturers still have their own streaming and connectivity devices they have both concentrated on connectivity to the iPhone because of the outstanding benefits that it delivers. The connection allows you to use facetime, take calls, listen to music all with the audio streamed directly to your hearing aids.
You can also use the iPhone as a remote microphone in a meeting or at a restaurant to help boost audibility of the people you are with. the geo location abilities of the iPhone also allow you to track the last place your hearing aids where if you have lost them. It will give you a position on a map first, and when you get near to them you can change over to a screen that will basically give you colder and warmer prompts.
it doesn’t stop there though, both companies have been pretty innovative with how they use the geo location features. If perhaps there is somewhere you go regularly and you adjust your aids to a particular sound profile for that situation. You can set the location to be remembered and your hearing aids will automatically change to the sound profile that you like without any input from you.
Whilst the advent of wireless hearing aids was met with real excitement within the audiology profession, the introduction of Made For iPhone hearing aids seemed to spur the imagination far outside the profession. For the first time hearing aids were being talked about excitedly in mainstream press. There are hints that all of the hearing aid manufacturers will move towards Made For iPhone in at least part of their line-up, but companies like Phonak have introduced some outstanding wireless accessories like the Roger Pen in the recent past. So it will be interesting to see how this turns out.