If you have resisted getting a smart phone, now is the time to reconsider…this newer technology will be music to your ears!!

Older hearing aid technology (or lack thereof) could limit many wearers from enjoying other technologies such as music players and mobile phones. For instance, a hearing aid wearer would not be able to use small headphones with their iPod (or, let’s go way back…their Sony Walkman). When mobile phones became commonplace and ‘hands-free’ laws were passed, many mobile phone users were unaffected by the new laws because they had already been using a hands-free Bluetooth device. But hearing aid wearers became even more limited than as they couldn’t very well remove their hearing aid in favor of a regular hands-free device. Well, what to do?

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances (using short-wavelength UHF radio waves from fixed and mobile devices, and building personal area networks (PANs). Invented by telecom vendor Ericsson in 1994, it was originally conceived as a wireless alternative to certain data cables. It can connect several devices, overcoming problems of synchronization. A wide variety of products incorporating Bluetooth connectivity have been developed, including mobile phones, music players, computers, tablets and televisions.

Are there Bluetooth hearing aids?

The short answer to this is NO. The battery power required to operate standard Bluetooth technology is just not available in the tiny hearing aids batteries. However, many hearing aid manufacturers have created solutions to this obstacle. For example, Oticon, maker of fine hearing instruments, offers users their Streamer Pro, one interface with many features. Streamer Pro is the gateway to wireless connectivity offering remote control functionality of hearing instruments while transmitting signals from multiple sources, including landlines, cell phones, TV and the ConnectLine Microphone. Streamer Pro also provides seamless connectivity for:

ConnectLine App for iPhone® (Streamer Pro 1.2)
• Teleloop reception
• FM receivers
• Web-based video chat programs

Oticon's iPhone-compatible Bluetooth technology.

Oticon’s iPhone-compatible Bluetooth technology.

The new ConnectLine App for iPhone® further enhances the versatility of Streamer Pro. The app’s user-friendly interface allows users to control volume, program choice and input source by simply tapping icons and controls on their iPhone. Other hearing aid manufacturers offer their own streamers that are compatible with their own hearing instruments as well as many other Bluetooth enabled devices.

Will Bluetooth work for you?

When meeting with your audiologist or hearing care provider, be sure and discuss your needs for wireless connectivity. Your audiologist will offer suggestions based on your device usage the actual hearing aids use use. If available, your hearing aids can be paired directly with your Apple iPhone or paired with a streamer based on the actual devices you have (music players, television, mobile phone, etc). When setup is complete, the streamer (or iPhone) will pick up the Bluetooth signal and send it to your hearing aid via and FM signal. The streamer is usually worn around your neck or in a pocket for hands-free operation.

What are the benefits of streaming via Bluetooth?

Although you often must carry an additional device in order to access your mobile phone or music player, a streamer provides many opportunities that were previously unavailable to a hearing aid user.

Hearing aids with a streamer.

Hearing aids with a streamer.

– Personalized listening experience

The audio signal can be completely customized to the amplification that works best for you with each ear having complete adjustability. If you are using a music device, the hearing aids become wireless ear buds (like headphones only much cooler!). If using Bluetooth with your mobile phone, you can stream calls directly to one ear while leaving the other ear available for other sounds and noises around you.

– Multiple connections

Hearing aids with a streamer.

Hearing aids with a streamer.

In today’s world, we often have many devices, mobile or otherwise. Many devices can be paired to a single streamer so you can easily switch from one device to another. In fact, the technology is so cool that while you are watching a movie on your Bluetooth TV, the streamer can pause the audio from the TV while you take an incoming phone call.

– Remote control of your hearing aids

Compatible iPhones and streamers act as a remote control for your hearing aids. This is especially useful if your hearing instruments are very small and hard to adjust volume while wearing them.

– Standard technology

Bluetooth is an electronics industry standard protocol. Because it is was not developed by a hearing aid manufacturer for their specific hearing instruments, many manufacturers use the technology and adapt it to their products, not the other way around. The platform has been tested and refined already, as it’s been in use for many years in the mobile phone industry. The Bluetooth connection is secure and there’s no interference.

– Cutting edge technology

Bluetooth-enabled streamers have greatly elevated the hearing aid wearing experience. It’s an example of using today’s wireless hearing aid technology in a smart way that truly provides convenience for the individual with hearing loss.

To stay connected to your network of friends and family, contact ihearingaids today to find out more about Bluetooth streaming and Made for iPhone™ hearing aids.

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