When some think of hearing aids, they still think of large, bulky devices behind the ear. Hearing aid designs have not only changed from a style standpoint, but their functionality has vastly improved.
Today’s modern technology has automatic features, allowing patients to wear the devices during their daily activities and not have to make manual sound adjustments as they enter changing environments. In recent years, Bluetooth connectivity has also made a significant leap, allowing many hearing aid styles to connect directly to Apple iOS products, including iPads and iPhones. This connectivity allows phone calls, music, and audio from maps, podcasts, and more to be played directly in your hearing aids.
Why Connect Hearing Aids to iPhones?
For those with untreated hearing loss, the clarity in everyday speech is lacking. This can be with face-to-face communication, as well as conversations on the phone. Introduce background noise and speech can become even harder to understand. By having phone calls and audio streamed from an iPhone to hearing aids, the listener can now hear in stereo using both ears. If you’re thinking of the adage, ‘two ears are better than one,’ you’re exactly right! When the brain gets stimuli from both ears, speech understanding becomes clearer and easier. Having iPhone audio streamed to both ears through hearing aids, allows for a better listening experience all around.
As if better speech understanding wasn’t enough, how many times have you been working in the kitchen, your hands are dirty, and the phone rings. You need to answer but can’t hold the phone to your ear. Or, you need to be hands-free, but don’t want to put the caller on speaker phone. Having your calls streamed to your hearing aids allows you to be hands-free and continue to have that private conversation you’re accustomed to.
And don’t forget, all this audio streaming is customized to your specific hearing levels. When hearing aids are properly fit, settings are initially based on your responses from your hearing test. Think of this as setting your personalized equalizer not only for everyday situations, but also for streaming.
Is There an App for That?
Even with today’s smart hearing technology, there are times patients want to adjust their devices. Think about times you are in a loud restaurant and wish you could take control of the environment. Using an app specifically designed to control your hearing aids gives you the ability to adjust noise reduction, focus microphones, change bass, mid, and treble tones, and more.
Telehealth and cloud connectivity are features available through apps as well. These two features provide the utmost in convenience for the user. For those who prefer hearing aid adjustments made remotely, you may contact your audiologist through the app and share your requests. Your message is sent from your iPhone to your audiologist, adjustments are made, and new settings are available for download. All of this can be done in the comfort of your home, while traveling, etc.
Can My iPhone Help Me Hear?
In addition to the features available in the app, the iPhone also offers a function called Live Listen. In essence, Live Listen turns the iPhone into an external microphone. When Live Listen is engaged, the microphones on the hearing aids are lowered, and the microphone on the iPhone is given priority. The hearing aid wearer may give the iPhone to a lecturer or the person they are wanting to hear and instruct them to speak into the iPhone microphone. The signal will then be transmitted directly to the hearing aids to allow for optimal speech understanding.
Do I Have to Use My Hearing Aids and iPhone Together?
At times, some patients do ask if hearing aids are required to be paired or synced to an iPhone. The simple answer is ‘no.’ As stated before, hearing aids today automatically adjust for noise reduction, soft talkers, loud talkers, and adapt to various situations. Each of these automatic adjustments are performed without the need for an iPhone.
For those who enjoy the remote control aspect of an app, but do not want direct audio streaming, settings can be controlled to allow for this set up. This means calls, music, and any audio will not stream to the hearing aids, though the app can be used to adjust volume, program settings, find the aids if lost, and more.
As you can see, the advancements in hearing technology have evolved to allow for a personalized hearing experience. Whether hearing devices are paired to an iPhone or not, improved hearing abilities for better communication is the goal. If you are considering hearing devices, but aren’t sure what technology is best for you or if you could benefit from hearing aids that pair to an iPhone, we encourage you to visit your audiologist. Solutions tailored to your hearing challenges may be discussed, as well as features to benefit your hearing needs.