What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth is a way of communicating information from one compatible device to another. It uses ‘short-range wireless technology’ which means the communication is wireless (no cords). So, Bluetooth hearing aids are simply hearing aids that are able to communicate with other devices without the use of cords.
The most common type of communication is between mobile phones and hearing aids. Most smart phones including iPhones and Android phones are able to connect to hearing aids so that when you answer your phone, the voice on the other end goes directly through your hearing aids – no holding the phone up to your ear. The advantages of listening to phone calls this way is that the audio goes to both ears at the same time which makes it clearer and louder, the sound is amplified to suit your hearing loss and you don’t have to worry about your hearing aid whistling when you hold the phone up to your ear or other people hearing the conversation if you have it on speaker. Apart from hearing phone calls better, when your hearing aids are ‘paired’ (connected) to your mobile phone you can listen to other audio through them like music and podcasts – your hearing aids become like a set of wireless headphones with the added benefit of being programmed to compensate for your hearing loss.
In addition to listening to your phone through your hearing aids, you can also put an app on your phone that enables it to act like a remote control for your hearing aids. This allows you to adjust things like volume as well as having the ability to ‘find your hearing aids’ if you misplace them and telling you if your hearing aid batteries need replacing/recharging.
What are Bluetooth hearing aids?
Not all Bluetooth hearing aids and mobile phones are compatible however, so it is important to consider this when selecting your hearing aids. And like any Bluetooth connection, the connection between your hearing aids and your phone may drop out from time to time. If this happens and you are not able to reconnect them yourself, our staff can always help.
Another common device people connect their hearing aids to via Bluetooth is the television. Usually hearing aids will not connect directly to televisions and you need to purchase a ‘Bluetooth TV adapter’ which is a small box that connects to your television and then streams the audio to your hearing aids. Listening to the television this way gives you a clear sound that can be adjusted to your liking without affecting the TV volume for others. It also means you are not cut off from conversations around you as the hearing aids have the ability to stream the TV audio while still picking up conversations in the room.
Other Bluetooth devices people often use with their hearing aids are tablets, iPads, computers, and remote microphones.
How much do Bluetooth hearing aids cost?
When they first became available, it was only the top of the range hearing aids that included this technology. The good news is that now that this technology has been around for several years, it is available in almost all models of hearing aids from the basic level up to the top of the range. The only hearing aids it is not available in is the smallest (invisible) hearing aids as there is not enough room to fit the hardware required inside the hearing aid. The other limiting factor is that using Bluetooth requires more battery power and the battery size of invisible hearing aids is not adequate to perform efficiently.
In summary, remember:
- Bluetooth hearing aids are just hearing aids that have the capability to connect to other devices (like mobile phones) without using cords.
- Bluetooth hearing aids are available at all different price points from the basic level up to the top of the range.
- When choosing which hearing aids will be best for you, consider whether you would like Bluetooth technology and if so, discuss this with your Audiologist so they can make sure your aids will be compatible with your phone and other devices.