Technology is continually evolving to make people’s lives easier, with thousands of gadgets and apps being developed all the time – often solving problems for us before we even know they exist. The great news for those of us living with hearing loss? Hearing aid advances are currently leading the way in the latest consumer technology on the market. Manufacturers have realised that to make their products appeal, and they need to be compatible with the other technological devices and gadgets we use daily. From the latest in Bluetooth technology to clever smartphone apps and the handy new Apple Watch, hearing aids and their accessories have just taken a huge technological step forward.
The advancement of Bluetooth technology has led to three important developments in hearing aid and smartphone compatibility:
- Direct connection between hearing aids and iPhones (without the use of a streamer)
- Clearer, more natural-sounding audio (due to improved wireless transmission of the audio)
- Lower power consumption (leading to improved battery life)
Bluetooth-compatible hearing aids allow you to connect wirelessly to televisions, mobile phones, landline phones, and mp3 players. It enables better speech comprehension, and sound clarity as the sound is delivered wirelessly to the hearing aids, with no issue of sound decay or reverberation.
With Bluetooth-compatible devices, you can talk hands-free on your mobile or landline phone through your hearing aids, and the phone call is answered or ended with the push of a button. Cleverly, the hearing aids automatically shut off the microphones to enable you to hear on the phone in comfort and without distraction.
Most manufacturers of hearing aids now provide a plug-in accessory for your TV which wirelessly sends a comfortable sound to the hearing aid wearer whilst enabling an agreeable volume for everyone else in the room. The hearing aids can also receive music and other signals from an iPod or mp3 player. It means you can switch between mobile phone calls and music from your iPod without ever needing to remove your hearing aids.
There’s an App for That
New smartphone and tablet apps that link to hearing aids are a big deal right now, constantly being developed to better assist people with impaired hearing. They give hearing aid users the ability to remotely configure settings on their aids using Apps on iPhones, iPads, or Android-powered devices, without using a streamer.
The phone sends audio to the hearing aids; in much the same way as it does to a standard Bluetooth earpiece, from notching up the volume on devices; to use them as headphones to stream phone calls, YouTube videos and music. They even remember particular settings for different venues, be it a busy coffee shop you visit regularly or your office.
There’s a new app that provides captioning for conversations on a smartphone, and another promising feature is the ability to locate a lost hearing aid. As you walk around your house, the signal bars get stronger as you get closer to the devices. And if the hearing aid’s battery is dead, the phone can remember the GPS coordinates of where you were when you last had it.
Technology has come leaps and bounds, and now everyone can benefit. As well as being a hit with tech-savvy gadget lovers, the Apple Watch also assists those who could use an extra hand when it comes to hearing impairments.
The watch gives much of the same benefits as the smartphone apps; without needing to carry a phone around in your pocket (perfect for running, for example). In this YouTube video, Steve DeLuca – who has been hearing impaired for 18 years – explains how he regained his freedom by using apps on his Apple Watch to control his hearing aids.
For impartial information on the latest hearing aids, speak to HearingAid.org.uk. As they are totally independent, they have no vested interest in any brand, make or retailer, and the guidance you receive is completely tailored to your individual needs. Call their expert team today on freephone at 0800 567 7621 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week).