Bluetooth is the current cutting edge when it comes to wirelessly streaming sound to hearing aids to provide the best possible experience for the wearer. In the old days, a person who wanted to listen to music via headphones would have to remove their hearing aids and put on headphones or insert earbuds into their ears. Now that music can be streamed directly into their hearing aids. In years past, a hearing aid wearer often had to remove their hearing aids to avoid squealing when talking on the phone. Today, that same person can have the sound from their smartphone streamed into their hearing aids. This is a revolutionary concept that exists right now.
Bluetooth is a technological standard that allows high frequency radio waves to send data wirelessly from one electronic device to another. It’s a technology available and built into millions of consumer electronics like iPhones, iPods, and computers. Bluetooth can even allow you to stream music and phone calls through the speakers in your car.
Though the technology is great, it also requires a lot of battery power. For this reason, hearing aid manufacturers often make use of devices that connect to the Bluetooth hearing aids to provide extra power. This can be a bit cumbersome because it requires the consumer to have to carry an additional device with them, even if it is something that easily fits in a pocket.
Another downside with Bluetooth used in hearing aids is that it is the same frequency used with cordless phones 2.4 GHz. This means that there is only about twenty five to thirty feet of signal strength. This is fine for a person in his or her home, but it means that in public, all hearing aid users making use of Bluetooth have to be providing their own signal, rather than it being transmitted by a public venue such as a theater or church this is something that is easily done with a telecoil. With a telecoil, audio from a movie or a person talking on a stage at a convention can be sent out to every person in the building with hearing assistive devices in their ears. Fortunately, most hearing aids that are Bluetooth-enabled also are telecoil ready, so that the users can take advantage of one at home and another in a public venue.
Bluetooth is exciting and is opening up all new avenues for people with hearing loss to live as normal lives as possible. And, it’s sure to adapt and improve even more over the years and decades to come.