Technology – of all sorts – is advancing at an incredible pace and hearing aids are no exception. Nearly every year there are changes in hearing aid features. With such frequent additions and changes it can be difficult to keep track of what they all mean. Some of the features have similar names. It may not always be clear what you should expect from them as a wearer. One of the newest improvements in hearing aids is the addition of Bluetooth vs Wireless Hearing Aids. But what does that mean – aren’t hearing aids already wireless and why would hearing aids need Bluetooth anyway?

1.) Bluetooth vs Wireless Hearing Aids:

Wireless connectivity has two key components. The first is that a hearing aid can communicate with its pair in your other ear. It relays information about the sound in the environment and make changes to your settings. If you’re in a busy room, the hearing aids can work as a team to focus more accurately on someone who is speaking. Another feature is that when you make a volume or program change in one ear, the other follows the same setting.  These functions make understanding conversation much more automatic. Especially in loud settings. Which in turn helps you to be able to focus on the conversation instead of adjusting your hearing aids.

The second component of wireless technology is that the hearing aids can communicate with outside electronic devices. This means that, without being hardwired, you can connect your hearing aid to a remote or streaming device. The streaming device then translates that signal to be compatible with the hearing aid processor. This function allows the provider various things. Access to adjust hearing aids, listen to phone calls, music, and the television. All by way of the streaming device that is paired directly with your hearing aids. Who wouldn’t want to hear an important phone call in both ears, corrected for their specific hearing profile? Or to be able to watch TV at a level that’s comfortable for both you and your family?

2.) Bluetooth vs Wireless Hearing Aids:

Bluetooth is the standard for wireless connections. It is actually the way most electronic devices, like phones and tablets, connect to streamers/remotes for hearing aids. Until recently, Bluetooth could not be implemented in the hearing aids themselves, because it required too much power. Apple has developed a Bluetooth protocol that requires less power. It can also directly communicate to the wireless properties in current hearing aids. You can now stream phone calls and music from an Apple device directly to the hearing aids, without a streamer or remote.  Apple is the first to provide such a connection to hearing aids, but other electronics manufacturers are not far behind. It shouldn’t be much longer before hearing aids are directly compatible with many different types electronics. Streamers will no longer be necessary! 

The goal of hearing aids is to help you understand conversation more clearly in as many environments as possible. Wireless functionality drastically improved the ability to hear in busier environments and when connected to the phone and TV. Bluetooth functionality only adds to that improvement and makes the connection process simpler. For many, these features are life-changing and allow smoother conversation and better connections with friends and family. Who doesn’t want that?

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