Virtually every year, manufacturers add new features to their devices, taking them beyond mere assistive hearing devices and transforming them into desirable objects. Today’s modern hearing aids are adopting wireless connectivity technology predominant in smartphones. Connectivity offers a host of benefits to users and extra utility too.
Wireless Connectivity in Hearing Aids
Wireless connectivity in hearing aids is any technology that facilitates the transfer of information between the hearing aid and a third-party device without the need for wires. There are several different forms of wireless connectivity available, discussed below.
Most modern hearing aids come with Wi-Fi connectivity, similar to smartphones, tablets and personal computers. This allows users to connect them to Wi-Fi networks in the home and when they travel. Wi-Fi is simple, convenient and lets users stream audio directly from the internet.
Some hearing aids also offer proprietary Bluetooth connectivity – a short-range data transfer technology offering a high bandwidth. Bluetooth allows device-to-device connectivity, without the need for any intermediate equipment. In practice, this means that users can route TV signals, cell phone calls and landline calls to their devices directly.
In the past, hearing aids required users to don a Bluetooth accessory – a small device usually worn around the neck that transmitted Bluetooth signal to the hearing aids However, in recent years, advances in technology means that the necessary components are built into the devices themselves. Incoming signals travel silently through the air and hit the receiver, get converted into electrical signals which then power the onboard speaker, producing audible sounds.
FM and DM Systems
Frequency modulation and digital modulation transmit sounds from external microphones directly to a receiver on a hearing aid. Because sound information travels in the form of radio waves, it makes it appear to the wearer that the speaker is standing right next to them, not across the room. This helps to improve clarity and remove annoying fuzziness and delays that can sometimes occur.
Telecoils and so-called hearing loops are another form of wireless connectivity technology found on hearing aids. Telecoils are helpful because they help users segment incoming sounds. When the hearing aid is int-coil mode, it will only produce sounds transmitted to it the electromagnetic field.
For example, many hearing aid users use their telecoils when answering the phone. Upon picking up the phone, they switch the hearing aid to t-coil mode, stopping amplification of regular ambient noise and prioritizing sounds coming from the call. As before, the telecoil detects these sounds and then converts them to electrical signals sent to the speaker unit to generate sounds.
T-coils are also used in hearing loops. Hearing loops are helpful systems in public places, such as churches or theaters, that allow the hearing aid user to listen to sounds coming directly from the stage, without any other background noise from the crowd.
Benefits of Wireless Connectivity in Hearing Aids
There are many benefits of wireless connectivity. These include:
- Better localization: Hearing aids use wireless connectivity for communicating with third-party devices andeach other. In fact, the ability to rapidly communicate with each other offers some considerable benefits. For example, it allows hearing aids to provide users with better sound localization. Hearing aids essentially mimic how ears naturally operate, providing directional sound information.
- Better sound quality: Ambient noise can make it difficult for hearing aid users to detect sounds in some situations. But here, wireless connectivity can help. It bypasses the microphone entirely and sends sound information through the air to a receiver on the device. This receiver then converts incoming electromagnetic information into electrical signals sent to the speaker. The result is much clearer sound – particularly helpful when answering the phone, listening to the TV or being a spectator at a public event.
- Improved convenience: Lastly, wireless connectivity helps to make hearing aid users’ lives more convenient. With connectivity technology, it is easier to stay connected to the rest of the world. Hearing aids that connect to the internet open up many opportunities and dramatically enhance quality of life.
In summary, wireless connectivity in hearing aids is any technology that involves the transmission of information using electromagnetic waves. There are many different forms of this technology, each with its own applications. If you’d like to learn more about which hearing aid models would be right for you, please contact Hear Again America hearing health professionals by calling us today at (877) 905-9493. We look forward to speaking with you.