Apps For Your Ears

Most people these days have a smartphone. Some people use hearing aids. And that’s a match made in tech heaven.

Like smartphones, today’s hearing aids are really computers. They process sound, digitize data, and communicate wirelessly with other devices in the vicinity. This is the stuff of science fiction from 50 years ago.

It is with apps that anyone can use their smartphone — or tablet or computer — to enhance the performance of their hearing aids and open up a wealth of ways to better use them.

The most obvious way is by granting access to a wide range of controls that would never be feasible directly with machines as small as hearing aids (especially those that are fitted directly into the ear canal). Current software cannot just do routine things like adjust volume, treble, and bass but also capture and store the “soundscapes” of specific places, which are then used to counteract the specific hearing issues of the user when they visit these places.

Apps can also upload the data captured by hearing aids to providers and manufacturers, allowing for troubleshooting and building user-specific performance profiles.

Bluetooth connectivity also allows apps to be the go-betweens for hearing aids and other appliances like TVs, stereos, phones, and even doorbells or other attention-getting devices. Sound can be streamed directly into hearing aids rather than being part of the ambient sound in a room that has to be processed all together.

And your hearing aid’s app will also provide easy access to information, such as battery levels, and the ability to go straight to the instruction manual without tracking it down in a drawer or through an online search.

There’s not much these apps can’t do.