Hearing-impaired iPhone users will soon have a smaller and more compact choice for handset-connected hearing aids, as the first batch of “Made for iPhone” fully-integrated hearing aids are set to roll out without the need for any intermediary transmitters.
Apple has worked very closely with GN ReSound based out of Copenhagen, Denmark, to bring the Danish audiological company’s LiNX hearing aids to market. The LiNX represents not only the first Made for iPhone hearing aids to come to light since the program’s announcement two years ago, but the first hearing aid of any kind that can directly connect to a smartphone, bypassing tertiary “streamers” that act as an intermediary transmitter between a Bluetooth device and existing wireless hearing aids.
The hearing aids communicate with Apple devices on the 2.4-gigahertz band utilizing Bluetooth 4.0’s low energy mode. This is the same light-on-power wireless technology that underpins Apple’s iBeacons microlocation services and synchronization for connected devices, such as Fitbit’s activity tracker. The hearing aids can also be used to stream music and be used as a two-way headset for receiving phone calls. The aids are customizable through the companion iOS app. LiNX is expected to ship in the first quarter of 2014 at a cost in the range of $3,000 per hearing aid.
Apple has dedicated a significant amount of resources towards device accessibility for hearing-impaired users. According to news agency Reuters, “frequent visits” were made by personnel from both Apple and GN ReSound in an effort to refine communication APIs and extend the battery life in the hearing aids, where space is at a premium. Additionally, Apple owns multiple patents that define a system in which the hearing aid user and the hearing aids themselves, could communicate with one another in order to share information on how best to configure the hearing aids in specific circumstances.
Most modern hearing aids are partly or fully programmable. The parameters of audio capture and amplification can be set to deliver the best performance possible in many different environments. A busy mall, for example, requires the hearing aid to process audio input differently than it would do in an interior room of a house.
Apple envisions a future in which hearing aids connected to iOS devices would be able to detect their location and then automatically prompt the user to switch programs based on the data provided by the experiences of other hearing aid users in the same place. This data in combination with other Apple technologies, such as, the iBeacons Microlocation service, could lead to a remarkable increase in quality of life for hearing-impaired iPhone users. You can register your interest here.
[Image via newsmax.de]