Bluetooth hearing aids have caught the attention of the public in the last few years. Generally, when people are talking about Bluetooth hearing aids, they are talking about Made For iPhone hearing aid technology (MFI). Made For iPhone hearing aids were first introduced by GN Resound with their LINX platform in 2014.
They were quickly followed by Starkey’s Halo Made For iPhone hearing aids. However, while many hearing aids are advertised as Android compatible they are not the same as Made For iPhone. Phonak and Unitron have delivered a traditional Bluetooth hearing aid that is compatible with any phone with a Bluetooth option.
What is Bluetooth Technology?
Bluetooth was invented in 1994. The technology allows two or more devices to transfer data wireless between one another in the form of radio waves. Bluetooth was designed to cater for a cross-platform exchange in communication between electronic devices. In essence, it was first designed to transfer data, then designed to transfer files from one computing device to another. It developed over many years and is most commonly used to transfer audio. It can be found in many electronic devices such as mobile phones and computers. Bluetooth technology is, in fact, a wireless system of communication, a radio, which allows wireless communication between electronic devices.
Many hearing aid manufacturers saw the benefit of Bluetooth technology, however, there were drawbacks. Initially, the audio transferred wasn’t very good. Most manufacturers went down the route of designing their own wireless transmission system. They designed streamers using in-house designed radios that allowed them to avoid the problems with Bluetooth connection. However, both Resound and Starkey continued with Bluetooth and delivered the first Made For iPhone hearing aids.
Bluetooth Compatible Hearing Aids
If a hearing aid has an iPhone app it does not necessarily mean they are iPhone compatible. The devices will all connect to your iPhone either directly or through a streamer. They can have apps that connect to and control the hearing aids. The connection is stable and the audio quality is very good.
Bluetooth Hearing Aid Streamers
All of the hearing aid brands have Bluetooth compatible hearing aid streamers. Streamers are the unique devices built by each hearing aid manufacturer to ensure stable, low energy, wireless streaming of audio to their hearing aids.
What are the differences between iPhone an Android Bluetooth?
There is a difference between MFI hearing aids and Android compatible Bluetooth. MFI hearing aids are designed to work very closely with Apple’s operating system. They will connect directly to Apple iPhones and iPads without the need for any intermediary device. In other words, audio from the phone or the tablet can be directly streamed to the hearing aids (both ears), including phone calls, music, audiobooks and podcasts in stereo. Android compatible devices require an intermediary device for streaming but not for phone calls. Phonak has recently came out with a Bluetooth option for any phone that does allow phone calls via Bluetooth from the hearing aid without an intermediary device, but it only does so to one ear.
Are Bluetooth Hearing Aids a Good Option?
Bluetooth hearing aids are a great option. Even if you do not have a smart phone, the hearing aids will be able to give you the quality of sound you need to help improve your day to day listening environment. As for those with a Bluetooth compatible smart phone, these hearing aids give users the option to use the app if they please, or to keep it simple and let the hearing aids themselves do all of the work. They are a flexible option that is beneficial for all users regardless of their diverse needs.