The introduction of wireless connectivity in hearing aids will allow people to connect their hearing aids with a wide range of mobile devices which have become an essential part of modern life – from MP3 players to TV and mobile phones – and to stay connected to the audible world around them.
A standard for all
“To allow hearing aid users to fully benefit from the possibilities that wireless technology has to offer, it is important that we connect to all kinds of mobile devices,” says Soren Hougaard, The European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA) secretary general.
“We are working on a standard every consumer electronics manufacturer can implement. This becomes even more important if we consider that, in the near future, this technology could also be installed in cinemas, schools and public places to improve the lives of people with hearing loss in even more listening situations,” he said.
Limits to overcome
However, there are still some limits to overcome. The tiny batteries used in hearing aids, additional accessories required to connect hearing aids to mobile devices and the fact that you are bound to one brand due to the lack of a global Bluetooth standard.
To solve these restrictions, the world’s leading hearing aid manufacturers have joined forces with the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), mobile phone and TV producers to develop an ultra-low power non-proprietary solution that will be part of a new Bluetooth specification. This solution will allow hearing aid users to wirelessly receive stereo music and voice from their phones, TVs and music players, providing extra clarity in everyday environments.
Hearing aids becomes multi purpose devises
In the future hearing aids won’t just be about sound. The first manufacturers have already started to incorporate health and activity sensors into earbuds, providing athletes with information about their body whilst they are on the move. Such capabilities could become part of many ear-worn products, providing a comfortable and inconspicuous way of checking our health at the same time as enhancing our hearing – all wireless. These new features may help encouraging more people to start wearing hearing aids at an earlier stage of hearing loss, providing benefits to them, their family, friends and colleagues.
In March 2014, EHIMA announced a new partnership with the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). The partnership aims to develop a new Bluetooth standard for hearing aids.
The European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA) represents the six major hearing instrument manufacturers, producing up to 90% of hearing aids made globally. EHIMA was founded in 1985, and the members are among the world’s largest and most advanced hearing aid manufacturers.