(BPT) - Bluetooth technology is steadily expanding the role of modern hearing aids from tiny marvels that make use of artificial intelligence to process sound into true, state-of-the-art multimedia hubs now capable of two-way communication.
The primary goal of hearing aids has always been to improve speech understanding. While this hasn't changed, manufacturers are now building Bluetooth technology directly into the most advanced hearing aid microchips. This lets consumers directly connect to virtually any wireless electronic device, eliminating the need to wear a body-worn accessory.
Let's take a brief look at how the latest Bluetooth hearing aids are transforming the way we live.
They can now directly connect to any Bluetooth-enabled phone
According to Dr. Elizabeth Thompson, director of business development and veterans affairs at Phonak, previous generations of hearing aids could only directly connect to an iPhone, which greatly limited people's options.
'Pew Research Center found only 33 percent of American smartphone owners used an iPhone while a whopping 66 percent used the Android operating system,' said Thompson. 'Furthermore, another study showed 38 percent of all Americans over age 65 still use a classic flip phone. Until now, there has never been a Bluetooth hearing aid that was truly made for all devices and allowed universal connectivity - including the ability to directly connect to an iPhone, an Android device (e.g., Samsung, LG), or even a classic flip phone that is Bluetooth-ready.'
Bluetooth hearing aids enable truly hands-free calls
The latest Bluetooth hearing aids allow you to answer a phone call with a simple press of a button on the hearing aid. Built-in microphones on the hearing aids themselves feature automatic voice pickup, allowing people to have two-way conversations through their hearing aids. Thompson stated this is the first time this has ever been done with hearing aids.
'This is indeed the first time a hearing aid wearer can have a true hands-free conversation without having to touch the phone at all,' she said. 'This is especially convenient in the car, where your phone may be in a pocket or purse, or if you need to have a conversation while leaving your phone on the table or countertop, for example if you're cooking.'
They stream wireless stereo sound directly from your TV
According to research firm Statista, Americans spend an average of 4.5 hours per day watching TV. And if you are or live with someone who has hearing loss, you probably know that sometimes the volume of the TV can become an issue.
'With a card-sized TV Connector, hearing aid wearers simply plug the device into the back of the TV,' added Thompson. 'The 'plug and play' TV Connector instantly pairs with Bluetooth hearing aids, allowing viewers to stream high-fidelity TV sound in-stereo at their preferred volume level, independent of other viewers. Wearers have reported a markedly better experience in understanding dialogue, especially when the person on TV is talking fast.'
Bluetooth hearing aids are available right now
While all of these new advances may sound like the future, hearing aids with built-in Bluetooth technology are available today. For more information, visit tryphonak.com or find a licensed hearing care professional who has been specially trained in fitting the latest hearing aid technology.