Hearing Aid Technologies
Hearing aids have become very sophisticated over the years, with features undreamt of just a generation ago. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the advent of wireless connectivity. Thanks to the proliferation of Bluetooth® technology, today’s hearing devices are more versatile than ever, and feature unparalleled sound quality and convenience. Bluetooth is a wireless communications system that allows a variety of electronic devices, including computers, smartphones and personal audio players, to exchange data – in essence, communicating with one another. When paired with hearing aids, Bluetooth allows the user to stream signals from those devices directly to the hearing aids. Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids come with a controller for transmitting and receiving wireless signals to and from other Bluetooth devices. By sending data through the wireless spectrum instead of over the airwaves, there is no need for the internal microphone to pick up and amplify sound. The result is clearer, more natural sound. The hearing aid can connect with many different devices including television sets, cellphones, GPS systems and even other medical devices. Wireless connectivity does come with a price: increased power demand. Most hearing aid batteries are tiny and unable to supply enough power for a steady Bluetooth connection. To get around this, assistive listening devices called streamers have been developed. Usually worn around the neck, streamers provide a communication link between devices, picking up Bluetooth signals and transmitting them to and from hearing aids via an FM signal or electromagnetic field. In essence, the streamer works as a personal remote control for your hearing aids, enabling you to change the hearing program, raise or lower the volume and mute the streaming sound – all with the push of a button.