Many are aware of smartphones, smart TVs and smart speakers, but now there are smart hearing aids that are widely available.
What’s a smart hearing aid?
This refers to hearing aids that can be connected through Bluetooth® technology to mobile phones and other Bluetooth®-enabled devices. Bluetooth® hearing aids have become more and more popular.
Bluetooth® is wireless digital technology that lets your devices (laptop computer, tablet, smartphone, TV, etc.) connect to one another within approximately a 30 feet range.
This technology is used instead of wires that usually connect your devices together.
Bluetooth® was first introduced to the public in 2000, and continues to be used to this day with smartphones and other electronics. It’s easy to use and has a low power expenditure, making it the most popular method of connecting several devices such as headphones, speakers and even hearing aids.
Bluetooth®-connected Hearing Aids
Smartphones that feature Bluetooth® and pairing them with hearing aids is not a unique concept.
Back in 2006, Starkey, the Minnesota-based hearing aid manufacturer, announced that ELI was the first hearing aid that would be compatible with phones that had Bluetooth®. It was named by Time magazine as one of the best inventions of 2005.
Within the following years, several other hearing manufacturers offered their own hearing aids that featured Bluetooth® technology. Unfortunately, they all had the same defects. In order to stream audio from a cell phone device, they each needed a separate streamer, or hearing aid Bluetooth® adapter.
Most users were unwilling to carry a Bluetooth® hearing aid streamer, making Bluetooth® hearing aids unpopular for almost a decade.
Back then, most professionals in the hearing aid industry believed that the Bluetooth® feature in hearing aids was a clever advancement in technology, but the general public were not prepared to use it. Most hearing healthcare providers chose not to introduce the concept of Bluetooth® to patients, and completely dismissed the trend.
Later, the wave of excitement over this advancement could not be ignored.
Bluetooth®-connected Hearing Aids and iPhones
Until just a few years ago, an overwhelming number of hearing aid users who wanted Bluetooth®-connected smartphones had to utilize a Bluetooth® adapter (streamer) in order to do this.
Hearing aids that had Bluetooth® included were not available to the general public, mainly because Bluetooth® technology used up too much power in smartphones. This is the reason why the extra streamer accessory was required.
Fortunately, in 2011, the development of a Low Energy Bluetooth® and a partnership between Apple and the GN ReSound made direct connectivity from iPhones to hearing aids a reality.
The by-product of this teamwork is the ReSound LiNX, which was first shown in 2014 at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, NV. This is also when the term “Made for iPhone” (MFi) was introduced.
This direct connectivity allows iPhone® users to stream audio from their phone to their hearing aids, use their phone to adjust the hearing aid setting, and more.
During the following years, nearly every leading hearing aid manufacturer adopted this innovation and offered hearing aids that were specifically made to use with the iPhone®. By 2016 “Made for iPhone® hearing aid” became widely known and available.
Unfortunately, even though the Made for iPhone® hearing aids were common, most hearing aid users still didn’t have direct connectivity. About 75% of all smartphones around the world were powered with Android.
This need for non-Android powered devices drove manufacturers to refine a Bluetooth® connected hearing aid that would be compatible with non-iOS devices.
Bluetooth®-connected Hearing Aids and Android Phones
For years, direct connectivity has been available for iPhones® but it’s a new perk that Android users can enjoy.
Currently, most hearing aids on the market cannot directly connect to an Android phone. A Bluetooth® adapter is needed in order to connect.
ReSound started the hearing aids that were Made for iPhones®, and Phonak continued it. Between 2014 to 2018, when every other leading hearing aid company was prioritizing their Made for iPhone® hearing aids, Phonak went in a different direction. Phonak started developing Bluetooth® hearing aids that could link up to every type of smartphone - Google, iPhone®, Motorola, Samsung, etc.
In 2018, the Phonak Marvel, A.K.A. the “Made for All” hearing aids were introduced to the public. This “Made for All” hearing aid can be used with any smartphone (Android, iPhone® and most older cell phone models). This direct connection allows users to stream sounds from their phone to their hearing aids, use their phone to adjust settings of the hearing aids, and use their hearing aids like a Bluetooth® headset.
Unlike iPhones®, Phonak’s “Made for All” hearing aids can connect to a vast number of devices and feature genuinely hands-free calls.
What are some of the Benefits and Features of Bluetooth® Hearing Aids?
Oticon OPN S: Audio streaming, live listen, volume and program adjustments, a gauge for battery life, adjustment for tinnitus therapy, remote programming, hearing aid finder, compatibility with Apple® watch, hearing aid diagnostics and IoT capable (Internet of Things - this lets your hearing aids connect to other IoT devices, like your doorbell).
Phonak Marvel: Audio streaming, live listen, volume and program adjustments, a gauge for battery life, adjustment for tinnitus therapy, remote programming, adjustment for microphone directionality, adjustment for bass/treble, transcription of conversations and hands-free calling.
ReSound LiNX: Audio streaming, live listen, volume and program adjustments, a gauge for battery life, adjustment for tinnitus therapy, remote programming, adjustment for microphone directionality, adjustment for bass/treble, hearing aid finder, geotagging, hearing aid software updates and compatibility with Apple® watch.
Signia Pure: Audio streaming, live listen, volume and program adjustments, a gauge for battery life, adjustment for tinnitus therapy, remote programming, adjustment for microphone directionality and adjustment for bass/treble.
Starkey Livio AI: Audio streaming, live listen, volume and program adjustments, a gauge for battery life, adjustment for tinnitus therapy, remote programming, adjustment for microphone directionality, adjustment for bass/treble, hearing aid finder, geotagging, hearing aid software updates, hearing aid diagnostics, conversation transcription, language translation, step counter, fall detection.
Widex Evoke: Audio streaming, live listen, volume and program adjustments, a gauge for battery life, adjustment for tinnitus therapy, remote programming, adjustment for microphone directionality, adjustment for bass/treble, hearing aid finder, geotagging, hearing aid software updates, compatibility with Apple® watch and A/B sound comparisons.
How do you Pair Hearing aids with Your Android Phones?
Prior to pairing your hearing aids with your Android phone, make sure your hearing aids are compatible with your smartphone.
If you do not know whether your hearing aids are compatible with your phone, contact your hearing instrument specialist.
Your hearing aids should now be linked up with your Android phone.
What are the best Bluetooth® Hearing Aids of 2020?
According to San Diego-based hearing providers and web professionals, ZipHearing, there are three things to consider when determining the best Bluetooth® hearing aids:
#1: Phonak Marvel
The Phonak Marvel was first released in 2018. It has been awarded the Gold Stevie 2019 Innovation of the Year, CES 2019 Innovation Awards Honoree and was the 2019 Edison Awards Finalist.
#2: Starkey Livio AI
Starkey’s Livio AI was released in 2018. It has been awarded the Silver Stevie 2019 Technical Innovation of the Year, 2019’s CES Innovation Award Honoree, Red Dot Design Award 2019, 2019 SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards Finalist and Silver Muse Design Awards of 2019.
#3: ReSound’s LiNX Quattro
ReSound’s LiNX Quattro was released in 2018. It was awarded with Good Design Award of 2018, CES Innovation Award 2019 Honoree and the UX Design Awards of 2019.
If you or a loved one would be interested in a free hearing aid trial of Phonak's Marvel , Starkey’s Livio AI, ReSound’s LiNX Quattro, or any of our other hearing aid options, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a consultation.
Please be aware that Pure Sound services will only be available by appointment and for essential visits at this time. Essential visits include all appointments that require new hearing aid fittings, repairs and re-fittings. We ask that you please wait in your car, while wearing your mask, and place your hearing aids in a clean zip lock bag. We will come to your car to get them. If you are having any issues with your hearing aids, or an assistive listening device, please contact us before visiting one of our office locations.