Approximately 9 million people in the UK suffer from hearing loss, and for a significant number using a hearing aid is essential in their day to day lives. Traditionally, hearing aid users haven’t had a huge amount of control over the settings on their device. In fact, most of the time they are able to only change the volume of their hearing aids. But thanks to mobile technology, this is no longer the case. The majority of hearing aid manufacturers have explored the potential of using mobile apps to better improve the experience for their customers. Most often, this has come in the form of a hearing aid control app allowing the user to change the settings of their hearing aid from their phone.
How do they work?
Hearing aid control apps work over Bluetooth and as a result require the hearing aids themselves to have bluetooth capabilities. Some of the apps also have the ability to stream audio from the phone to the hearing device. However, unless the hearing aids are specifically Made For iPhone (MFi) hearing aids then they require an intermediary ‘streamer’ device to work.
Examples of Hearing Aid Control Apps
Phonak’s Remote app is a prime example of a hearing aid control app. The app allows the user to change the volume of each hearing aid independently. Additionally, as with many of the remote control apps, the app has the option for you to select between different custom hearing programs, although these need to be set up by your hearing care professional. As the app is designed to work with MFi hearing aids, iOS users are able to stream both phone calls and music straight to hearing aids.
Miracle Ear’s MEcontrol app is designed to give the hearing aid user complete control over their device by turning their iPhone or Android smartphone into a remote control. The app is compatible with the company’s GENIUS 3.0 Hearing Aids and allows users to not only set the volume level of the hearing aid, but also broadly adjust the EQ by changing the bass and treble levels.
In addition, the app allows users to select different settings based on the listening situations that they’re currently in. For example, there are presets for restaurants, cinemas or intimate conversations. In addition to being able to check the battery of the device, the user can select a level at which the app will notify the user that their battery level is low. The app is also able to monitor sound exposure throughout the day. Hearing care professionals are able to make use of this data to alter the settings on the hearing aid.
TruLink Hearing Control
TruLink’s hearing control app contains all of the standard features expected of a hearing aid control app, such as volume control and basic EQ settings. However, the TruLink app makes use of location data in a unique way. Users are able to select between different hearing aid programs which are suited to different listening situations. But by using geotagging, users can set different programs for different locations. This means that the app will automatically change the user’s program setting depending on where they are. For example, a user might have different settings for home and work, and when they reach work the app picks up on their location and the program changes automatically.
How does this add extra value to the customer?
Manufacturers who aren’t developing mobile apps to accompany their hearing aids are definitely missing a trick considering the extra value added to the customer. Many of these apps also offer the user the ability to monitor the battery levels of their hearing aid, something which simply wasn’t possible previously. The fact that mobile devices are so widespread and familiar to users makes them a perfect fit for controlling hearing aids, especially when you consider alternatives of using standalone remotes or buttons and switches on the hearing aids.