In the past, complete Bluetooth implementation required a greater power supply than could be generated within the small footprint of a hearing aid battery.
More recently, Apple patented a specific Bluetooth connectivity with hearing aids so that certain hearing aids can communicate directly with the iOS platform that runs iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices. This technology is designed to allow the devices direct connection without extreme stress on the battery power. Several hearing aid manufacturers have released hearing aids that implement this Bluetooth technology, marketed as Made for iPhone™.
Benefits of streaming via Bluetooth include:
- Personalized listening experience — The audio signal can usually be set to stream to one or both hearing aids and the streamed signal can be amplified and shaped to match the hearing aid’s personalized settings. The volume of the stream may be controlled by the streamer or the hearing aids, depending on the manufacturer’s design. In the case of a music player, the hearing aids can become a set of wireless ear buds. For a phone, it may be preferable to stream the signal to just one hearing aid so as to keep the other one accessing the other sounds in the room.
- Multiple connections — Multiple devices can usually be paired to one streamer, so you can easily switch between different devices. For example, you can be connected to your mobile phone while you’re streaming a movie from your tablet. The streamer is able to interrupt or pause the audio from your tablet in order to bring you the audio signal from an incoming phone call.
- Remote control of your hearing aids — Commonly, there are capabilities for remotely changing the volume or program from the streamer. This is especially useful if your hearing aids are too small to accommodate external controls.
- Standard protocol — Bluetooth is an electronics industry standard protocol. It’s not unique to a particular hearing aid or hearing aid manufacturer, so there is uniformity in the way that it works across all devices. 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 is no interference.