Image Courtesy: www.audicus.com
Thanks to Apple that hearing aids are no more clichéd to just a device used by the elderly. The first ‘Made for iPhone’ hearing aid devices come with Bluetooth wireless protocol developed by Apple. Users now can connect their Smartphone with hearing aids to stream down any data or audio.
As compared to the conventional Bluetooth, this consumes only a fractional part of power. Hearing aid manufacturers are using this technology, to make their devices not only smart but to increase its compatibility amidst the tech savvy users.
The MFi Program Enabled Hearing Aid
The MFi program is a license program provided by Apple to developers who work with iOS devices. With this program, manufacturers allow users to connect their hearing aid to any cell phone device. What the manufacturers of hearing aids need to ensure, is that their device is equipped with a 2.4 GHz radio-operating band. The band needs to adhere to the standard of Bluetooth and support a Bluetooth headset profile.
With the 2.4 GHz based Bluetooth, a wireless accessory accepts the signals emitted from the phone and translate it to the hearing aid. Most of the hearing aid accessories come with an inbuilt microphone. They pick up the voice of the user and transfer it back to the phone with the help of the Bluetooth.
What comes as an advantage of using this program is that, both the devices communicate with each other. In fact, it is not just for audio but users can transfer data that can help them to interact beyond the on-board control provided by the hearing aids.
Benefit of MFi Compatible Hearing Aid
Ordinary hearing aids often turn out to be challenge for most in case of an environment change. They often require audio settings of a different kind. While there are some devices that come with programs already preset, some get set automatically according to the configuration their programming suggests. This becomes difficult as such devices comes calibrated from an audiologist’s clinic and may fall short when it enters the real world of practical work.
With the iPhone apps developed by both Starkey and ReSound, users can now adjust their hearing aid accessory without the need to visit an audiologist. These applications allow users to fine-tune the audio settings according to the different acoustic environments. They help to geotag profiles that can automatically switch any program based on whether the owner is at home, office or at any local pub.
One of the most common functions of such an app is having a remote control feature for the hearing aids. A manufacturer has to join the MFi program and certification program as had been laid out by Apple, in order to distribute their apps that run on iOS devices.
You can easily avail a Bluetooth hearing aid anywhere, since they are already out in the market. However, until now it has been a difficult task to implement a Bluetooth directly into the hearing aids. The old Bluetooth compatible hearing aids had to rely on an intermediary device like a dongle that was worn around the neck. They are not only a hassle to carry along but also consumed excessive battery power.
The 4.0 version of Bluetooth helps to eradicate all these problems. Apart from being a smart Bluetooth, they also solve the problem of power constraint as a ‘power friendly’ device.
Starkey promises to provide users with long battery life of 9 to 11 days. However, this may be subject to reduction if someone is using the iPhone linked Halo to stream down music.
There are limitless possibilities when it comes to using these apps. Other additional features include a finder app – the ‘find my hearing aid’ app that helps to locate any misplaced device by following a wireless signal. The user can also get access to usage tutorials and troubleshooting advice.
Finally, hearing aid accessories seem to be a smart appetite for the public. But, why is it that they are made only for iPhone?
The answer is two-fold. First, hearing aid industries cater to only a segment of the consumer market. Hence, they have very limited resources for development. With the focus on accessibility, Apple became the first to manufacture a device that enables an efficient ‘audio streaming protocol’ for direct communication. The manufacturers found it a good opportunity to increase their consumer base.
Unlike other operating systems like Android, the iOS reduces the variables of performance during audio streaming.
However, these new aids do not come cheap. The ReSound Linx costs $2200 dollars while the average price of a Starkey’s Halo is $1,899 to $3,099. Hearing aid manufacturers hope that Apple will provide some brand value to their product. Let’s hope that hearing aids become a successful communication device in an era where technology knows no bounds.
Featured Image Courtesy: www.nationswell.com