Welcome to a Wireless World
Posted by Living Sounds
These days, nearly all hearing aids have wireless connection options, however, they vary in technology, connectivity, and robustness. Streaming is a fun and sometimes crucial way for hearing aid wearers to enjoy cell phone conversations, TV and radio audio, and even direct input from remote microphones. Some of the options out there for hearing aid connectivity run on the following platforms:
- Near-field Magnetic Induction (NFMI)
- Radio Frequency (RF)
- 4 GHz
- 900 MHZ
Typically, near-field induction will utilize a “mediating” type device between Bluetooth connections and your hearing aids. These are usually referred to as streamers and are worn or kept nearby. This type of connection has a shorter range, so the streamer usually has to be worn around your neck in close proximity to the hearing aids during streaming. If the units you are connecting to do not have Bluetooth, (like most TVs or landline phones) additional intermediate devices can be added to improve the connectivity and flexibility of your hearing aids.
Radio frequency connections have also become very popular recently. This platform offers greater connection distance to the hearing aids and often does not require an extra streamer device beyond the listening accessories. Many of the streaming accessories stream the audio directly into the hearing aids without the body worn streamer device. Additionally, the accessories that are used can send information to multiple pairs of hearing aids. This is handy when two or more residents in the same household wear the same brand of hearing aids. There are differences in robustness between the 2.4 GHz and the 900 MHz signals. Although they are both radio frequency, these are different platforms, and accessories are not cross compatible.
2.4 GHz works on the same platform as traditional Bluetooth, so it is now possible to have hearing aids connect directly to the popular iPhones & iPads for direct streaming, even without the added accessories. This is found in Starkey’s Halo, the make for iPhone hearing aids currently available.
900 MHz platforms are found in Starkey’s new Z series hearing aids. These have a variety of accessories that may be used to allow streaming directly into your hearing aids, as well as improved ear-to-ear communication between ears for better hearing in background noise.
There are pros and cons to whichever system you are considering. At Living Sounds Hearing Centre, we have options that suit your specific needs and can help you choose the right hearing aids for your lifestyle and needs. Be sure to consult with your practitioner or audiologist about your choices, and we will help you choose the best possible fit for your ears!
Tania Gora MSc, R.Aud, Aud(C)
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner