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Made for iPhone®” Hearing Aids and How the iOS7 and iPhone Models Work With Hearing Aids

With the release of the new iOS7 operating system and iPhone® 5s and 5c models, Apple® is now prepared for “made for iPhone” hearing instruments. "Made for iPhone" hearing aids will provide two valuable features:

  • Seamless connectivity between hearing aids and smartphones
  • iPhone accessibility to hearing aid settings (use your iPhone to access and adjust the settings of the hearing aids)

GN ReSound has introduced the world's first "made for iPhone" hearing aid!

The GN ReSound LiNX™ is the first hearing aid to earn the "made for iPhone" label. The audio from an iPhone can be directly transmitted to both hearing aids without the use of a streamer. GN ReSound recently presented more information about the LiNX™ at the International Consumer Electronics show. Features of the LiNX™ hearing aid will include:

  • Wireless connection to iPhone, iPad®, and iPod® Touch devices without the use of a streamer or intermediary device
    • The hearing aids can act as a type of headset so the user can listen to directions as they're driving, participate in phone conversations, and listen to music in both hearing aids.
  • An app can be downloaded for the LiNX™ that will allow the user to:
    • Find the hearing aids if they're lost
    • Use an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to change the settings of the hearing aids
    • Use an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to program the hearing aids to switch settings in different acoustic environments
    • Use an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch as a microphone that will stream the user's voice directly to both hearing aids

Two other hearing aid manufacturers - Oticon and Starkey, are working with Apple to release technology with the “made for iPhone” label.

iOS7 provides a few advances with the hearing impaired in mind:

  • Additional support for “made for iPhone” hearing aids (in preparation for when they become available)
  • Support for stereo audio for iPhone 5 and iPod Touch (5th generation)
  • Improved integration with Bluetooth® 4.0 accessories (BLE or Bluetooth Low Energy)

Bluetooth® 4.0 technology could eventually lead to three important advances in hearing instrument and iPhone compatibility:

  • Direct connection between hearing aids and iPhones (without the use of a streamer)
  • Clearer, more natural sounding audio (due to improved wireless transmission of the audio)
  • Lower power consumption (leading to improved battery life)

GN Resound has released technology featuring a 2.4 gHz low-power communications protocol in line with Bluetooth 4.0 functionality. Also, Oticon's new Inium technology boasts of faster processing speeds and lower power consumption than the 2.4 gHz protocol.

Setting Your iPhone 5s, 5c, 5, 4s, and 4 to Hearing Aid Mode

iPhone 5s, 5c, 5, 4s and 4 models comply with the FCC’s hearing aid compatibility standards. However, to maximize the clarity of your particular model of iPhone, you will need to activate the "Hearing Aid Mode."

While hearing aid manufacturers are busy creating “made for iPhone” hearing aids, Apple is working on new advances to improve the hearing aid user's experience of their devices.

New Technology to Make iPhone Use Easier for Hearing Aid Users

Apple has applied for a patent for technology that could be available in future iPhone models. This new technology aims to improve the audibility of phone conversations by minimizing the impact of background noise and promoting the clarity of the speaker's voice.

Social Networking for Hearing Aid Users

A patent applied for by Apple implies that the global innovator is seeking to create a social network for hearing aid users. The goal would be to facilitate connection among hearing aid users through a social media platform where their unique instrument settings could be openly shared.

iPhones and Automatic Hearing Aid Detection

Apple has also applied for a patent for new technology that would enable an iPhone to automatically detect whether or not the user is wearing a hearing aid. The technology features two types of sensors that detect a hearing aid and its distance from the iPhone. If a hearing aid is detected, the iPhone would automatically change its audio configuration to a hearing aid compatible mode. This would eliminate the need for an iPhone user to manually switch the iPhone to the "hearing aid mode" of operation. It is unknown when this feature will be available. Until it's released, iPhone users will have to manually switch to hearing aid mode to promote a higher degree of voice clarity. For more information on the automatic hearing aid detection technology for future versions of the iPhone, click here.