Hearing aids evolve with the help of an iPhone

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Not everyone has perfect hearing, and most people don’t, but if you have a hearing aid and you’re wondering if the technology would ever converge with smartphones, your time has finally come.

Developed by hearing specialist GN ReSound, the Linx is one of the first hearing devices that can connect to a smartphone over Bluetooth to monitor location and change its settings accordingly.

“We saw an opportunity to create the world’s best hearing aid by combining the capability of GN ReSound’s life-changing technologies with the compatibility and global prevalence of iPhone, iPad and iPod touch,” said Allister Daly, General Manager of ReSound Australia.

“We are committed to improving people’s lives through the use of this innovative technology and look forward to more people correcting their hearing with this new device – a triumph in accessibility for the hearing impaired.”

The Linx hearing aid isn’t your regular hearing aid, and combines not just amplification technologies, but also stereo playback, making it possible to link up with a supported smartphone or media player to playback music or movies in a form of virtualised surround sound.

But the device goes further than this, allowing you to change treble and bass settings for different locations, with the information memorised and assigned to these specific locations using the GPS of the smartphone, media player, or tablet, with geo-tagging.

For instance, if you want a different type of sound setting for a movie cinema from what you have at home, you can set this up, and every time you go to the movies — that specific cinema — the hearing aid will change settings to match what you wanted at that location.

A loss of hearing is different from person to person, and the product is even helping musicians who have lost hearing due to the massive amounts of sound heard when they’re at work.

Dragon’s bass-playing Todd Hunter is one such person, telling GadgetGuy that his hearing loss came as a result of doing just that: playing music.

“Sometimes the band is so loud on stage, it’s like standing in front of a jet engine,” said Hunter. “In rock music, there needs to be a certain intensity and volume level to attain lift off. Anything less than that is very unsatisfactory.”

Unfortunately for Dragon’s bassist, his hearing is much worse than when he was younger, telling us that his ability to hear high frequencies were “compromised.”

“I didn’t really realise how much until I muted the ReSound Linx a few hours after I was fitted and all the birds, rustling leaves, and distant planes that I was hearing just disappeared,” said Hunter.

“I was shocked.”

Fortunately for Hunter, wearing the hearing aid appears to be helping, making it possible for this rock musician to get his head back in the music and still hear things when he’s off the stage.

Whether this hearing aid will be better for someone with hearing loss than a conventional hearing aid comes down to visiting with a specialist and seeing what’s right for you, but we’re certainly keen to see a smartphone link up with the device in this way as it shows more examples of convergence, and should make it even easier for people with a degenerative hearing problem to fit in with a society that is always listening.

GN Resound’s Linx is compatible with iOS devices only at this time, requiring either an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, with the product available from clinicians and audiologists now.