About four years ago, a patient of mine asked me if hearing aid companies were working on enabling hearing aids to pair directly with cellphones and other Bluetooth devices. At the time, I thought: well, that’s a darn good question! And since then, two things have happened, hearing aids have moved away from using Bluetooth as the mode of wireless communication and hearing aid technology have stepped ankle-deep into app-based (application) technology.
The first hearing aid that I was able to experience this with was the Signia/Siemens Binax range of hearing aids. You can download an app (TouchControl app) and instantly turn your smartphone into a remote control for your hearing aids. You can adjust the volume, programs and direction of the microphones. Of course, it didn’t end there, that was just the beginning! Oticon then launched the OPN range of hearing aids that can communicate wirelessly to your phone AND it’s joined the If This Then That community. So for example, if you want to go the beach when the weather is good; you set the app to alert you. You can instruct it inform you (through your hearing aids) when the temperature reaches 28 degrees (C). The possibilities are endless!
About two weeks ago I attended a launch by hearing aid manufacturer, Widex. Their latest innovation, the Beyond was released. Great product and available at all price points. So these lovelies also allow you stream from your smartphone directly to your hearing aids. Another really nice feature is that it if you lose your hearing aids, you can turn on “Find my hearing aids”. It works similarly to the Find My iPhone feature. I think that’s quite a nifty little feature to have. Except, if your dog’s eaten it, good luck finding it then!
It is important to note, that while these companies are launching new technology that improves accessibility, the features related to better hearing has also improved significantly! So it’s not all rah-rah without the including the most important thing, that is: Hearing! And that’s an important point, when deciding about hearing aids, do not get too carried away with all the techy stuff and forget about the hearing part. The main reason you are being fitted with hearing aids is to help you hear better and improve communication (to name a few). So do not be seduced by all the sparkly things and keep your eye on the prize: Better hearing. Luckily, most major players in the market, these features are there to improve accessibility and they have also upped their game by improving the hearing technology. That’s what I call a win-win.