An Overview of Bluetooth Hearing Aid Technology
Bluetooth Technology Explained
Bluetooth is a wireless communication platform that allows for the transfer of data between two or more electronic devices. If you’re an armchair historian, then the name is particularly special: Bluetooth, from the Scandinavian Blåtand/Blåtann, was named for the Danish King Harald “Bluetooth,” renowned for bringing various Danish tribes into a unified kingdom.
Bluetooth’s technology was first invented by the Dutch engineer Jaap Haartsen, who worked for Ericsson in 1994. According to tech lore, Jim Kardach of Intel came up with the name Bluetooth for the technology, while reading a history about King Harald. Formally established in 1997, Bluetooth, like its namesake, is a system that connects different electronic devices.
However, it wasn’t until 2001 that Bluetooth began to gain popularity, with the growing popularity of smartphones. According to Android Authority, “The first Bluetooth mobile phone was the Sony Ericsson T36, but it was the revised T39 model which actually made it to store shelves in 2001.”
In its early years, Bluetooth was already an awesome technology, “widely used as a computer serial port, catering to internet modems, printers, mice, data storage, and a host of other peripherals.” Ironically, though Bluetooth is often used these days to stream audio, it was “originally conceived with wireless voice calls in mind…not high-quality stereo music streaming.”
In recent years, alongside the innovations in mobile phone technology, Bluetooth’s technology has grown exponentially and it is now used widely in a variety of different ways, from connecting computer keyboards to laptops, to streaming audio through speakers, and to revolutionizing the way hearing aid users benefit from their devices.
Lifestyle Benefits of using Bluetooth
Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids give hearing aid wearers a significant leg up from traditional hearing aid models. In terms of accessibility and usability, Bluetooth hearing aids allow wearers to customize their listening experience through apps provided by hearing aid manufacturers. These apps give you the option of changing the volume, adjusting program features, and tailoring your listening experience through a user-friendly app. Some hearing aid models now offer remote fine-tuning, allowing your hearing health provider the ability to make adjustments to your listening experience remotely.
Connection to your smartphone means you can stream phone calls directly to your hearing aids. This improves conversations exponentially, giving you seamless access to your conversations. Even more, Bluetooth hearing aids give you the option of streaming music, video audio, audio books, and more directly to your ears.
GPS is another exciting option with Bluetooth. In the past, you might have had to re-adjust your hearing aids when you entered a new environment, especially ones with overbearing background noise or acoustically challenging spaces (such as auditoriums). Now, with Bluetooth, your personal preferences for different locations are saved with GPS, and your hearing aids will seamlessly adjust program features to your preferred settings. This provides a natural relationship to sound in your environment and eliminates the need for wearers to make adjustments. Some Bluetooth hearing aids even offer a locator option, in case you misplace your hearing aids.
There’s even more in this era of “smart” hearing aids. Recently, Starkey Hearing Technologies produced the world’s first artificially-intelligent hearing aid, the Livio AI. (It should be noted that Starkey also produced on the world’s first Made for iPhone hearing aids!) The Livio AI functions almost like a FitBit or AppleWatch, taking your pulse and helping you stay on track with your health goals. It also has an incredibly useful and even potentially life-saving function: Livio AI will notify emergency services if the wearer has fallen!
Bluetooth and Hearing Aids
Best Bluetooth Hearing Aids
popular, smart, Bluetooth hearing aids to consider.
ReSound’s LiNX Quattro is most notably a rechargeable hearing aid, offering one of the longest lasting batteries on the market. With a single overnight charge, LiNX Quattro provides 24 hours of listening, with 12 hours of streaming. LiNX Quattro connects to an iPhone directly with Bluetooth, and ReSound is currently working on technology to support Bluetooth connectivity with Androids. Additionally, if you want to connect your hearing aids to your home entertainment systems, such as a Bluetooth-equipped TV or stereo, ReSound offers accessories that facilitate audio streaming. With ReSound, we can look to exciting developments on the horizon – ReSound is currently in the works of integrating features that allow you to direct iPhone’s Siri to make adjustments to your listening device on your behalf!
Phonak has long been a frontrunner in exciting technology, and the Marvel has been met with wide acclaim. Marvel accommodates a large range of degrees of hearing loss with four technology levels, and it also offers a rechargeable option. With an overnight charge, Marvel provides up to 16 hours of battery life. Paired with the Phonak TV Connector, Marvel provides up to four hours of streaming. Not bad for a Netflix binge-watching session! Marvel also connects to other Bluetooth devices such as your laptop or computer, allowing you to access Skype or Google Hangouts for video calls.
It might sound like something out of a sci-fi novel, but Widex’s EVOKE is a “machine learning hearing aid,” which means that it gets smarter with each wear. With their new SoundSense Technology, EVOKE feeds what it learns into an anonymous database, giving you and other EVOKE wearers improved access to sound. EVOKE connects to the iPhone directly and to Android through the Widex app.
Introduced in early 2019, Oticon’s Opn S is a new and improved version of their popular Opn series. Built around an “open sound” platform, Opn’s technology provides a natural listening experience by empowering wearers to focus on the sounds they want to hear in their environment. Even more, Opn hearing aids can connect directly to the internet, providing wearers with access to a digital sound library to help them in their daily life. Like the others, Opn S is a rechargeable hearing aid that provides a long battery life on a single charge. While Opn S doesn’t connect directly to computers or TVs, Oticon does offer wireless accessories for streaming. Currently, Opn S only connects with iPhones and iPads.
If Bluetooth technology sounds like something you want with your hearing aids, Ear to Hear is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about upgrading your hearing technology to Bluetooth hearing aids to get the most out of your hearing instruments.