Smartphone apps have integrated into many aspects of our daily lives. You can use apps to adjust home thermostats, power appliances, or even pay bills. But did you know you can also use apps to control hearing aids?
The accompanying apps of many different hearing aids are invaluable for individuals who use hearing aids. They allow for discretion, personalized convenience, and quality assurance.
What is a hearing aid app?
Hearing aid apps help a user control their hearing aids. Utilizing Bluetooth technology, an app can connect to the hearing aid and creates a convenient interface for users to personalize their hearing aids to fit their needs.
Hearing aid apps are part of a broader group designed to assist with hearing. Other hearing-related apps include decibel counters and tinnitus therapies. While people with hearing aids may find use in some of these, they will benefit most from hearing aid-specific apps.
A brief history of hearing aid apps
The road to hearing aid apps started in the mid-1990s. According to Medical Device Network, digital hearing aids first hit the market in 1996 with Widex’s Senso hearing aids. This was the first step toward the current landscape of hearing aid technology.
However, it wasn’t until 2005 that things started to pick up. This was the year that Starkey Labs introduced their ELI device. The device allowed hearing aids to become compatible with Bluetooth-enabled cell phones. This was a game changer.
Before this integration, using cell phones with hearing aids would result in static and distortion. The ELI device eliminated these unpleasantries by routing calls directly into the hearing aids. The development set the standard and earned accolades from Time Magazine.
2014 saw the creation of the first made-for-iPhone hearing aids. One of these aids, The ReSound LiNX, featured an accompanying app. This app allowed users to set balance preferences such as volume, bass, and treble. The app also allowed for geocaching, saving noise settings for particular environments.
Today, the technology of hearing aids is better than its ever been.
How do hearing aid apps work?
Hearing aid apps are means by which a user can control their hearing aids with their phone. Not only is this convenient, but it allows for a level of discretion.
With the help of Bluetooth and modern technology, hearing aid apps allow a cohesive experience for individuals who use hearing aids. These apps facilitate this cohesion with a variety of features.
One of the features is volume adjustment. Along with general volume control, this also refers to the hearing aids’ bass and treble balance. Modern hearing aids can read soundscapes and automatically adjust to noise levels in a room. It is also possible for a user to adjust the volume manually.
Hearing aid apps also allow users to craft a personalized hearing program. If the user likes to frequent a restaurant or concert venue, they can save the volume settings in the app to match that location.
Apps can also help with hearing aid maintenance. For example, users can use the app to check the battery life of hearing aids or locate them if they’re missing.
Hearing aid apps also allow for communication with audio health providers. Through hearing aid apps, users can have their doctor provide a hearing test, adjust the hearing aids, or even schedule a fitting.
It is also possible for hearing aid users to stream content directly into their hearing aids using apps. This essentially turns the hearing aids into a pair of headphones. Some hearing aid apps rely on an intermediary device. These external devices help stream audio from a phone back into hearing aids. Examples of intermediary streamers include the ComPilot Air II. The need for intermediary streamers is most prevalent for apps on Android phones. iPhone-based apps do not generally need them.
Are all hearing aid apps the same?
The quality of hearing aid apps depends on a few characteristics. The most important is an app’s compatibility with a hearing aid itself. Often, hearing aid apps pair with a particular brand of hearing aid.
As such, the most reputable hearing aid apps tend to be device-specific. Take, for example, the Signia touch control app. Rated by tech.co as one of 2022’s top hearing aid apps for Android, the app is designed to work with the Simiens hearing aid specifically.
However, universal hearing aid apps are emerging onto the market. One example is the Chatable Universal Hearing aid. According to Valuehearing.com, the app pairs with any hearing aid, cochlear implants, and even earbuds like Airpods.
Other factors come into play as well. Likewise, the quality of an app is affected by the phone on which it is downloaded. Some apps work better on Android phones, while others are designed exclusively to work with Apple devices.
Another important aspect in judging the quality of hearing aid apps is operability. The app should be easy to use to provide a seamless experience. This includes a manageable operating system, discernible format, and reliable access to a tech support system.