Control This Hearing Aid With Your iPhone

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Feb. 25 2014 6:56 PM

Control This Hearing Aid With Your iPhone

hearingaid
Using a smartphone to control a hearing aid gives users a lot more flexibility and precision to adjust to conditions like different ambient noise levels.

Photo by ReSound.

Smartphones can connect to basically anything these days, but some of these devices are more useful than others. Which is why it's nice to see an example of adding remote smartphone control that seems immediately useful.

If you've ever known someone who was getting used to a hearing aid, you've seen how difficult it can be to transition between different ambient noise levels and to use other sound-producing devices while wearing the hearing aid. But the ReSound LiNX connects with iDevices to give people more control.

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The LiNX, created by the Danish hearing aid company GN ReSound, allows users to do things like talk on the phone or listen to music in their hearing aid, and control all of it through an iPhone or other iDevice. LiNX owners use the ReSound iOS app to have full control over the sound they're getting. They can adjust the volume or equalizers, or use default settings for different standard environments like a noisy public space or a library. And the LiNX has a "Find My Hearing Aid" feature so users can find their device if they lose track of it.

The app can also use geofencing to detect where a user is and automatically adjust from one preset to another when the user changes environments, like going outside from inside. This is useful for anyone with a hearing aid, but could be great for elderly users.

Additionally, MacRumors reports that the LiNX communicates with the iPhone using a custom processor on a special frequency that has been designated for communication between iPhones and hearing aids. In addition to security, one benefit of this is that the hearing aid is only on when it is receiving commands. That means it has a standard hearing aid battery life of about six days, even though its connectivity would normally be a power drain.

Of course the practical reality of using the LiNX may not be as rosy as its debut makes it sound. But having more control over a device that performs such a valuable function seems like it could only be a good thing. It might even reduce the amount that you and your grandma have to scream at each other in the grocery store.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

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