Many of the hearing aids on the market today offer direct or indirect Bluetooth connectivity to their users. While some individuals believe this feature is an “add-on” or a luxury, it actually serves as a valuable tool that may enhance the hearing aid experience.
Nowadays, Bluetooth connectivity allows a hearing aid user to connect to their smartphone, tablet, or other smart devices. Some hearing aids connect directly while others require an intermediary streaming device. Not only does this eliminate the need for an additional accessory such as a remote control, it also allows the user to have more control of their devices in their daily listening environments.
After a pair of hearing aids has been synced with a smartphone, the hearing aid user can make myriad adjustments through the use of an application or “app”. This may include manipulation of the equalizer, individualized volume change of each hearing aid, or it may enable the user to create programs in real-time. Providing the hearing aid user with this control is crucial. Why? Because hearing aids are typically set in a quiet office. But the real world is not quiet; it is the complete opposite! These controls give the listener more power over their settings in real life situations and allow them to make changes beneficial to their specific environments.
The average person uses their smartphone for many functions beyond phone calls. When hearing aids are synced, audio from calls, music, podcasts, and audiobooks can be sent directly into the hearing devices. By listening through both hearing aids, the listener can take advantage of binaural hearing and overall enhanced sound quality.
As audiologists, the goal is to provide the best representation of sound for every listening environment. But it is unrealistic to think this can be perfectly achieved. Acoustics vary greatly in the real world. Modern technology allows hearing aids users to adjust their settings in situations that cannot be predicted. And for this reason, it is helpful to have access to controls that may help to improve a listening situation. One of the most common misconceptions is that one must be “tech savvy” in order to take advantage of these features. But this could not be further from the truth. With a little practice and consistent use, even those considered technologically-challenged can be pros!