A Sneak Peek Into The Future of Bluetooth Hearing Aids
Remember a world with no smartphones, wireless earphones and wearable tech?
As recently as 20 years ago, we would happily have dealt with tangled-up cables and data transfers that took the better part of the afternoon.
Wireless internet connections or transferring files through the air from one device to another seemed like an impossible dream. But only a couple of decades later, Bluetooth technology has forever changed how we move through the world and interact with each other.
It’s contained not only in our smartphones but in gaming consoles, smart home equipment, cars, fitness trackers, and industrial equipment. The list goes on and on. Even your home printer, should you still own one of those, probably has Bluetooth.
|Bluetooth is a wireless technology invented in 1994 and uses a radio frequency to share data over a short distance. Bluetooth can be used to share files or to connect two Bluetooth-enabled devices. The current maximum connectivity range is about ten metres.|
And as recently as 2005, the very first hearing aids with Bluetooth were released.
Mind you, when hearing aid manufacturer Starkey rolled out the feature, it took an additional $300 for a separate adapter plugged into the hearing aid to transmit data between a hearing aid and smartphone.
Naturally, this wasn’t a technology many hearing aid wearers immediately fell in love with. In a world where everyone swoons over invisible hearing aids, who could have been expected to carry an additional willingly, and quite discernible, device wherever they went?
The Benefits of Bluetooth Hearing Aids
Of course, Bluetooth hearing aids have come a long way since. So have the data speed standards and connection quality of Bluetooth itself.
A whole lot faster and much more secure, modern Bluetooth technology needs only a fraction of the formerly required power and can be fitted in the tiniest devices.
Paired with extended communication ranges, bulky adapters are no longer necessary, making room for much more discreet hearing aid designs.
Suddenly, millions of hearing aid wearers worldwide swear by their Bluetooth hearing aids. And there are many great reasons to love them:
Long-range, hands-free device adjustments
With Bluetooth hearing aids, your smartphone becomes a remote control for your hearing. Whether you want to change the volume and focus or adjust other settings, you’ve got full control from the palm of your hand.
This in itself carries many advantages. For one, when you manage your hearing aids through your phone, you no longer need to fiddle with small hearing devices and their even tinier buttons.
That also means no one will ever know you’re wearing hearing aids because you’re just playing with your smartphone. And we’re on our phones most of the time anyway, aren’t we?
Effortless audio and video streaming
If you’re still swapping your hearing aids for headphones when you’re going for a run or want to listen to your favourite music without bothering the neighbours, you’re living in the past!
Thanks to the latest Bluetooth hearing aids, you can ditch your headphones and stream music, podcasts and movies straight to your ears without worrying about a reduction in quality.
And yes, you can also stream calls or driving instructions straight to your hearing aids. Welcome to the future of hearing aids!
Hearing aid battery life indicators
Are you one to worry whether or not your hearing aids are properly charged overnight? You no longer need to wait for the much dreaded low-battery beep to find out whether or not your hearing aids will support you throughout the day.
Put an end to your fears with one quick look at your smartphone!
What’s Next for Bluetooth Hearing Aids?
If we can believe a recent announcement of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), the trade association that oversees Bluetooth technology, hearing aid users may soon get to take advantage of a new audio broadcasting capability called Auracast™.
Based on the Bluetooth technology we’re already familiar with, Auracast™ allows audio transmitters, such as your smartphone or a larger scale, public address systems, to broadcast audio to an unlimited number of Bluetooth audio receivers. That includes speakers, earbuds, and hearing aids.
Auracast™ Bluetooth hearing aids will allow you to hear your best wherever you go
This is huge news for hearing aid and Cochlear implant wearers since Auracast™ may just completely erase the need for alternative assistive listening system (ALS) technology in public spaces.
According to Nick Hunn, CTO of WiFore, “current assistive listening systems […], have been providing great benefit to people with hearing loss,” but their usefulness is all too often limited by ”poor quality, high cost, and lack of privacy.”
He states that Auracast™ will be significantly easier to use and more cost-effective than traditional ALS and offer higher audio quality and greater privacy, promoting better living through improved hearing.
With Auracast™, you could just enter a public venue such as a cinema, airport or conference centre and receive audio broadcasts directly to your Auracast™-enabled Bluetooth hearing aids.
That is, assuming hearing aid manufacturers will quickly adapt the new technology and allow hearing aid wearers to unmute the world around them.
No matter what the future holds, it’s worth remembering that Bluetooth hearing aids will always be hearing aids first.
Bluetooth is one technology of many meant to offer those suffering from hearing loss the opportunity to enjoy greater sound clarity and receive audio information clearly, without distortion or interference.
Yes, it is an especially useful feature for those who enjoy the convenience of streaming audio straight to their ears.
And if its latest iteration Auracast™ stands up to the expectations, it may just set a new standard in assistive listening technology, forever enhancing the way you engage with the world and those around you.