It's hard to remember how uncool phones and computers were before Apple reinvented them. Could the technology giant now help to do something similar for hearing aids?
Last week, Denmark-based hearing aid company GN ReSound unveiled a new hearing aid called ReSound LiNX, which it has developed, and is publicizing, with Apple. It is billing the device and its ReSound Smart App as the first "Made for iPhone" hearing aid.
But it's not just a miniature in-ear device to help Grandpa hear Grandma. It's compatible with Apple's mobile devices, syncing wirelessly with the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and utilizing iOS 7's new accessibility features for hearing-impaired users, the first aids to do so.
Microphone, Pop-Up Notification
As a result, the device acts like a Bluetooth headphone, receiving audio for phone calls, chats, music, movies and map navigation. There are also added features, including a Live Listen functionality that enables the Apple mobile device to act as a microphone that can be used to better pick up voices or sounds in a sound-busy environment.
LiNX also takes advantage of a smartphone's GPS capability to geo-tag location-specific settings, such as in a movie theater. When you're again in that location, a pop-up notification asks if you want those specific settings. Additionally, your mobile device can be used to find the tiny devices if they're lost.
LiNX utilizes the latest incarnation of the company's Surround Sound technology, and users can set volume levels as well as treble and bass. Instead of having to fiddle with tiny controls on the back of one's ear, a user can employ their mobile device to change the settings. A new SmartRange chipset uses third-generation 2.4 GHz wireless technology.
GN ReSound said its new product is the smallest wireless receiver-in-the-ear hearing aid it has yet released, but is powerful enough to deal with 90 percent hearing losses.
Lars Viksmoen, CEO of GN ReSound, said in a statement that his company "saw an opportunity to create the world's best hearing aid by combining the capability of GN ReSound's life-changing technologies with the compatibility and global prevalence of iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch."
Although more than 35 million Americans have a hearing problem, only about 20 percent of those in need of a hearing aid have one. A key issue has been the clunkiness of many previous generations of hearing aids, and the awkwardness of having to fiddle with controls in or behind one's ear. Previous incarnations of hearing aids that were connected to smartphones required an intermediate device, such as a small pendant hung around one's neck, but GN ReSound notes that no such pendant is needed for its hearing aid.
But this Apple accessory is not inexpensive, as list price is expected to be about $3,000. The product is due to be released before the end of the month. No word yet as to whether a version for Android devices is in development.
Posted: 2014-03-11 @ 3:01am PT
Entirely too expensive for normal hearing aid users.
Posted: 2014-03-06 @ 10:23am PT
Let me know when the price comes down to $300.
Janice Schacter Lintz:
Posted: 2014-03-05 @ 6:58pm PT
Hearing aids should use generic and not proprietary names for features. Consumers are completely dependent for information on hearing aid dispensers who prescribe and sell the aids which is a conflict of interest. ALL companies should use generic names for features that should be rated against international ANSI standards.
People with hearing loss need assurance that they can connect when they want to connect. Has Apple overcome Bluetooth's connectivity issue? T-coils always connect.
Why does a hearing aid cost in the thousands when an iPad costs in the hundreds?
Apple was adding induction loops to their Genius Bars and began with their SOHO store in NY which I assisted. Are consumers now only going to have access at The Genius Bar if they wear a Apple hearing aid?
Janice Schacter Lintz, chair, Hearing Access Program