Mobile phones, laptops and a host of wearables are part of our daily lives in 2020. We have devices that can connect to our phones that tell us a whole bunch of stuff related to our heart rate, health and so on. It only makes sense that hearing aid makers would find a way to integrate hearing aids with our iPhones through Bluetooth, similar to how wireless headphones connect to smartphones. In this article, we’ll take a look at what this technology looks like, if it’s useful and if there is any additional costs to connecting hearing aids with iPhones.
Technology that Could Connect Your Hearing Aids to Your iPhone
Your iPhone can use wireless technology to transmit information to your hearing aids. This data would travel through the air between those two points, without requiring any wires.
However, this is not new rocket science. You already use wireless technology if you have a bluetooth mouse or keyboard for your computer. And you use wi-fi to connect to the internet and check your messages when you are out and about.
In fact, if you had bluetooth hearing aids you might enjoy the following advantages, although only you will know whether the additional expense is worthwhile:
- You could find it easier to connect to the internet of things all around you, including your iPhone
- You should find your hearing aids working collaboratively and improving the quality of sound
Only you will know whether this is worth the cost to connect your hearing aids with your iPhone this way. You may need to purchase new hearing aids with iPhone technology.
How Wireless Hearing Aids Communicate with Other Devices
There are three main types of technology that enable some hearing aids for phone connectivity:
- Electromagnetic tele-coils pick up signals from compatible telephones, and looped systems in public areas, places of worship, theatres, etc.
- FM-compatible devices connect wirelessly to external microphones to enhance sound from speakers. They are commonly found in lecture rooms, boardrooms, and in noisy restaurants
- Bluetooth compatibility wirelessly connects hearing aids to external microphones to improve signal quality from speakers. This is becoming popular in the context of mobile phones, MP3 players, and televisions
How Would I Gain from Connecting My Hearing Aids to My iPhone?
If you don’t currently have the system, then your hearing aids are processing sound independently as closed systems. Wireless technology would allow them to operate as a team in a single, complete system.
This means they could share decisions about processing sound, and deliver an enhanced result. They could for example:
- Switch simultaneously in the direction of a sound in nano seconds
- Synchronize sound processing between the two hearing aids
- Improve the quality of your subjective experience of sound
Measuring the Success of Phone Support for Hearing Aids
The U.S. Federal Communication authority maintains guidelines measuring the compatibility of phones with hearing aids. It uses two hearing aid compatibility (HAC) dimensions to score their effectiveness on a range of 1 to 4 where 4 is best:
- The “M” rating relating to radio frequency emission levels
- The “T” rating measuring suitability for use in tele-coil mode
Compatible Samsung Phones
Samsung phones in the current range are compatible, with HAC ratings M4 T3 across the board (see link below)
Compatible Apple iPhones
Most iPhone devices are hearing-aid compatible with a broad range of hearing aids. HAC ratings are M3 T4 throughout (see link below)
Connecting Your Hearing Aids to Your Phone Does Not Come Cheap
You could pay between $1,000 and $4,000 for a bluetooth enabled hearing aid if you don’t already have them. Prices vary according to strength of brand, quality, and of course technology too. Here are a few popular choices to consider:
- Eargo Neu HiFi compatible with Apple and Android devices - $2,650 each
- Strakey Livio working with iPhone, iPad, and Android devices - $2,500 each
- Beltone Legend 9 compatible with iPhone and Android devices - $2,495 each
- Resound LiNX Quattro – suitable for iPhones and 2.0 Androids - $1,899 each
One More Question to Ask – Do You Need to Pay So Much for Hearing Aids?
The answer depends partly on the quality of your natural hearing. If you are on border-line for lip reading, then having bluetooth hearing aids could improve the quality of your life, but do check with an audiologist first.
You might also appreciate the directional accuracy if you are active in non-contact sports like tennis, for example. And if you are obsessed with the quality of music from your hi-fi, then hearing aids compatible with phones could be the answer you seek.
However, if you only have mild to moderate hearing loss, then all you may need is a pair of digital hearing aids perfectly suitable for everyday use. Blue Angels sells these for just $197.99 a pair including packaging and shipping. But hurry because stock is selling fast, and prices may increase soon.