The technology behind today’s hearing aids is a thing of wonder. We’ve come a long way from the large, uncomfortable, plastic, behind-the-ear devices that many remember. Wearer’s of these earlier devices were limited in their options for style, size, color, and features. However, today’s hearing aids offer a much more user-friendly, customizable device with a broad list of features.
Wireless technology has allowed manufacturers to build much smaller hearing devices that can be so discrete, someone standing next to you would never know you’re wearing one. They still include behind-the-ear (BTE) models, but also include in-the-ear (ITE), receiver-in-canal (RIC), as well as other types, though these three are the mainstay of most hearing aid vendors.
Along with these ever-advancing models, wearer now has the options for Bluetooth technology in their devices. This wireless communication stage allows two or more electronic devices to remotely transfer data through the use of radio waves. It minimizes security risks and has no interference.
Tech companies are hopping on the bandwagon to align their products with the needs of the hearing aid community. Those who have Bluetooth capable hearing aids, which are plentiful in today’s market, are able to utilize platforms like:
With the advantages provided by the manufacturers, people are able to link their hearing devices with their phones to do any number of tasks. Taking phone calls has become a breeze with the ability to hear the conversation directly through your hearing aids. You can use it to stream videos on Netflix and YouTube, participate in webinars or have conversations via Skype.
Televisions are able to connect to your hearing device so you can adjust the volume where it’s comfortable for you. Laptops and tablets can be linked as well, for streaming of your favorite movies. Some styles will even pause your streaming if you receive a phone call.
Many enjoy the features that allow them to use their hearing aids as wireless earbuds for playing music or linking with the stereo in their vehicle. Another perk is that you can choose to link only one hearing aid with a device so the other one is available for hearing what’s going on around you.
Remote control of your hearing aids has become possible with the introduction of Bluetooth capability. Users are able to make adjustments to their hearing aid settings through apps on their smartphones such as volume, sound enhancement features, program selection based on your environment (indoors, outdoors). Some apps even help you find your hearing aids if you misplace them.
The capability to interact with FM systems through a receiver which is embedded in the hearing aid allows device wearers to use an FM transmitter. This allows the wearer to enjoy an enhanced experience during activities such as school learning and business meetings.
Telecoils are basically an antenna built into a hearing aid. Some manufacturers have integrated T-coils with both FM and Bluetooth technology, creating products that are adaptable for almost any situation. Users are able to benefit this combination in courtrooms, board rooms, subways, train stations, concert halls, and many other venues.
One downfall of Bluetooth technology is the substantial battery power they use. Some hearing aids use power 10 times faster when in the 2.4 GHz model. This can cause problems for those working in fields where they don’t have any downtime during the day to recharge the devices. In response to this problem, some companies utilize a near field magnetic induction (NFMI) device. The purpose of this small remote-control sized transmitter is to allow the NFMI device to receive the signal via Bluetooth, then broadcast it to the hearing aid.
Another stumbling block in Bluetooth usage is the fact that most devices must be within 30 feet of the presenter in order for their microphone to pick up what is being said. By combining Bluetooth with T-coil technologies, users have a great opportunity to use Bluetooth if they are nearby or switch their hearing aids over to the T-coil setting if they’re farther away.
Apple and Android devices have paired with hearing aid manufacturers offer this type of wearable technology. These combined ventures open the doors for many possibilities for those who wear hearing aids.
Instead of battling background noise or interference, these devices now offer a more personalized listening experience. The user can make adjustments as needed and keep it very low key by tapping a few buttons on their smartphone. Nobody will know they’re not simply responding to a text or email.
The opportunity for multiple connections makes Bluetooth a very attractive option for those who like to multitask, or their work demands it. Connecting to your tablet or phone while taking notes in a meeting becomes a breeze. Watching TV at home while waiting for a phone call can be easy as pie for those whose hearing aid automatically pauses their movies when the call rings in.
With Bluetooth as today’s cutting edge technology, the possibilities have never been this plentiful. If you are looking to upgrade, or to learn more about the capabilities of your existing hearing devices, schedule a consultation with your hearing health provider.