July 28, 2017

New Technology Allows You to Control Your Hearing Aid from Your Smartphone

When you think of hearing aids, you probably think of chunky devices that sit behind the ear and are fairly obvious. But hearing aids have changed in recent years. And they are still changing to keep up with technological advances in medicine and the wider world. Many people have some form of deafness or hearing loss. And hearing aids are one of the primary methods of improving people’s hearing. So it’s important that hearing aid technology develops along with everything else, getting smaller, cheaper and more powerful. One of the things that several companies have recently developed is hearing aids that you can control from a smartphone. As well as often being smaller and more discreet, you can now get hearing aids that will connect to your phone.

These new hearing aids aren’t cheap. But they’re useful for anyone who wants their hearing aids to be as much of a gadget as their other possessions. They offer lots of benefits, especially because the smartphone apps are combined with more discreet hearing aids. Several different manufacturers have developed hearing aids that you can use with iPhones and iPads, including Beltone and ReSound. And some apps also work with Android products too. These apps will allow users to do things such as control the volume of each hearing aid individually. They can also stream television audio without disturbing other people watching. And they can play music from the phone like with headphones. They use Bluetooth to connect, a bit like with wireless headphones.

The apps also let you tailor preferences for different locations. With the Beltone app, they can then geotag them so that their preferences are saved for when they next visit. This feature means that there’s no need for constant fiddling with settings whenever they experience a change of environment. Instead of needing to reach up and adjust their hearing aid, the user can do it simply by fiddling with their phone. Another excellent feature, on the ReSound LiNX app, is that you can use it to find your hearing aids if you lose them. When you have such an expensive and important piece of kit, losing them is a costly and upsetting nightmare.

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Yutaka Tsutano

However, there is some evidence that there just isn’t enough demand for these smartphone-attuned hearing aids. The price may be one factor. But ExposingHearingAids.org suggest on their blog that the age of hearing aid users could be contributing significantly. They point out that, although the majority of people with a hearing impairment are under 65 years old, most first-time hearing aid buyers are in their upper 70s. These people might make use of particular technologies. But they’re less likely to see the benefits of having everything connected to a smartphone, as millennials are.

Although iPhone-connected hearing aids might be a fantastic option for some, they’re clearly not for everyone. Perhaps it won’t be long before more hearing aid users have more experience with and desire for these technologies. But currently connecting to a smartphone is maybe a bit too complicated for many.

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