Some common complaints about hearing aids have persisted for years: difficulty hearing on the phone, listening to television and, most commonly, difficulty hearing in crowds (e.g. restaurants). Some products have recently emerged that go a long way towards solving these problems. By using wireless Bluetooth ® technology, we can create a direct (but wireless!) link between the phone, the TV or any other audio source and the hearing instruments.
The hearing aids work with a companion device (called a Streamer) which is worn around the neck. The Streamer then communicates wirelessly with other devices such as your home phone, television or a small wireless microphone which can be worn by a spouse/companion.
Home Phone: A small box attached to the phone line. When the phone rings, a signal is sent to the hearing aids via the Streamer. The user answers the phone by pressing a button on the Streamer. The user receives the caller’s voice in both ears – and doesn’t even have to get up to answer the phone (which makes this perfect for those with mobility problems). The hearing aids become a wireless headset.
TV: A small box is attached to the television. The user can then push a button on the Streamer and have the TV signal streamed wirelessly directly to the hearing instruments. The user controls the volume of the TV personally via the Streamer, meaning that the volume for the rest of the family can remain at a level which suits them.
Crowds: Demanding listening situations (e.g. restaurants) often make communication impossible for hearing aid users. A discreet Bluetooth microphone is worn by the user’s conversation partner. The microphone picks up the partner’s voice, filtering out surrounding noise, and transmits it directly to the Streamer. This can dramatically improve performance in situations where conversation was difficult or even impossible.
While the thought of using these types of technology might be intimidating for some, they are actually quite simple to use. Hearing aids are not perfect, but we can solve some of the issues using some modern solutions.