Manufacturers are stepping up efforts to integrate hearing assistive technology with smart phones and Bluetooth technology, according to a recent article from NextAvenue—a PBS media outlet for older adults.
The article describes apps that work directly with hearing aids from Audibel, NuEar, Oticon, Phonak, Starkey, and others. The apps allow users to stream sound directly to their hearing aids, translate calls into text, and sync with smart home systems. Others automatically turn off the lights when you turn off your hearing aid at night, alert you when someone rings the doorbell, or use your phone as a microphone to better hear dinner conversations in noisy restaurants.
One app even allows hearing aid wearers to track their physical and social activity. The app then calculates a daily wellness score. These apps, along with in-ear headphones and more minimalistic hearing aid designs, help de-stigmatize the wearing of hearing aids, the article says.
Smart phone manufacturers are also getting into hearing health. The newest iWatch offers an app to monitor decibel levels and warn the wearer when nearby sounds pose a risk of noise-induced hearing loss. iPhone owners can also use an app called Tunity to stream audio from a muted TV directly to the phone. Although not intended for people with hearing loss, it can be synced with some hearing aids.
Hearing loss is linked to several other health concerns, from dementia to depression to an increased risk of falling. And statistics show significant rates of hearing loss among Americans in all groups, from 15% of Americans age 18 and over with hearing issues to 50% of people 75 and over with disabling hearing loss. Yet many types of audiologic services—such as hearing aids—remain uncovered by insurance or Medicare.