New Advancement in Bluetooth Hearing Aids!

Bluetooth technology has been available in hearing aids for a number of years with great success especially with cell phone conversations. Another common struggle reported by many users is difficulty understanding television and their friends/family report it’s very loud. To help with this issue, hearing aid manufacturers have created accessories to connect to the TV and stream the signal through the accessory to the hearing aids.

Now, Starkey Hearing Technologies and Amazon have partnered together to streamline this connection. Amazon has recently announced that their Fire TV Cube (2nd Gen) has a feature to support Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA). The Fire TV cube (2nd Gen) can now stream audio directly to select Starkey enabled Bluetooth hearing aids without the use of an extra accessory. Amazon has also stated they expect to increase the hearing aids capable of this technology in the coming months, likely to more manufacturers.

Hearing Aid Technology Update: Phonak Virto Paradise

Phonak recently released a new in-the-ear hearing aid called the Virto Paradise. Virto Paradise is a custom product, made for your ears only. It offers enhanced features, including:

  • Improved sound quality over the previous generation of Phonak hearing aids (Phonak Marvel): This results in less listening effort needed to understand conversations. The Virto Paradise is also able to distinguish between speech and music when streaming audio from a Bluetooth device, resulting in a better sound experience.
  • Universal connectivity: The Virto Paradise with a size 312 battery has universal connectivity, meaning it is able to connect wirelessly to any device (smartphone, tablet, computer) that has Bluetooth capability. The hearing aids are also able to support connections to multiple devices at once.
  • Hands-free phone calls: Phone calls can be directly streamed from an iPhone or Android smartphone with Bluetooth capability to the Virto Paradise 312 hearing aids. You can answer phone calls with the push of a button on the hearing aids, even if your phone is on the other side of the room.
  • Adjustability: Virto Paradise 312 is compatible with the MyPhonak app, which can be used to adjust volume or program options in real time. The MyPhonak app allows you to personalize the sound of the hearing aids to your own preferences.
  • Sleek custom design: Available in a range of sizes and colors, there is a Virto Paradise option for everyone. A new offering is the black color, designed to resemble ear buds.

If you are interested in learning more about Phonak Virto Paradise or any of our other hearing aid options, contact our clinic at 904-399-0350 to schedule a consultation.

Bluetooth Connections and Smartphone Updates

Most current hearing aids have the capability to connect to smartphones via Bluetooth for phone calls, streaming, and adjustments to the hearing aids via an app. The feedback from patients has been very positive about how much they enjoy the ability to stream their cell phone calls to the hearing aids and the ability to make adjustments for more difficult listening environments. However, with any technology, there are some glitches where the Bluetooth connection isn’t working.

Hearing aid manufacturers have discovered that when there is a software update for the cellphone (Apple iPhones in particular), it causes a disruption in the Bluetooth connection, resulting in the lost ability to stream or make adjustments.

The solution to fix this can be done at home, without requiring a trip to the office by following the steps below:

Step 1: In the Bluetooth screen in the phone settings, you will click the “i” next to the hearing aid name and then click “Forget This Device” for all established hearing aid connections.

Step 2: Turn the hearing aids off/on. This can be done manually or by placing the device in/out of the charger (if applicable).

Step 3: When the devices are back on, the Bluetooth from the phone will detect the device. Select the hearing aid name and the pairing should then be complete.

This same process can be repeated for app connections as well. The devices are to be forgotten from the app, turned off/on, then select the devices from the list of detected devices and hit “pair” as prompted.

If you encounter any difficulty with re-establishing Bluetooth connections, call your audiologist for assistance.

Hearing Aid Industry Update: Signia Insio Charge&Go AX

The world of hearing aids has improved yet again! Rechargeable devices have been available to patients with hearing loss for a number of years in the behind-the-ear style with great success. Now, patients have the option of a custom fit hearing aid that is also rechargeable!

One of the hearing aid industry’s leading manufacturers, Signia, has released their newest product, the Insio Charge&Go AX. They allow hearing aid users to have the most discreet custom and rechargeable hearing aid on the market with great sound quality, better hearing in background noise and modern technology features such as Bluetooth connection. They devices are capable of direct Bluetooth connection to cell phones and tablets for any audio signal such as phone calls, streaming of music, video, and audiobooks. In addition, they can be paired to the Signia App on smart devices, which allows the user to have more control of their listening ability in difficult listening environments such as group environments and restaurants.

Contact our Hearing Center to see if the Signia Insio Charge&Go AX is right for you!

Click HERE to visit Signia’s website for more information.

Improving Phone Communication

One of the top areas of communication many of our patients are wanting to improve is better communication on the phone. Phone calls are one of the most difficult listening situations for individuals with hearing loss — there’s no opportunity to read lips, the signal is not always clear/consistent, and there are fewer contextual cues compared to face-to-face communication. Even with properly fit hearing aids, many patients continue to experience difficulty on the phone. Here are a few helpful tips for improving speech understanding over the phone while wearing hearing aids:

  1. Place the speaker of the phone directly on the hearing aid microphones. This allows the audio from the phone call to be processed through the hearing aids and amplified. If the phone is held to the ear in a typical fashion, the hearing aid may be acting as an earplug, making phone calls even more difficult. 

 2. Enable Bluetooth streaming for phone calls (if available). By streaming phone calls through the hearing aids, our brain is able to process the incoming speech information with two ears, thus allowing more opportunity for accurate speech understanding. 

3. Ask your communication partner to slow down and speak naturally. Slowing down rate of speech while continuing to speak in a natural manner is more beneficial than over-enunciating and raising the volume. 

Phone calls can take practice and patience. Reach out to your hearing care provider if you need further strategies or technology to improve phone communication.

Troubleshooting Bluetooth-Enabled Hearing Aids

Many newer hearing aids on the market are Bluetooth compatible and are able to wirelessly connect to both iPhone and Android devices. Patients with Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids enjoy the convenience of streaming phone calls and listening to music/tinnitus maskers from their phones directly to their hearing aids, all the while being able to use their phone as a remote control. But with great convenience comes the occasional annoyance when connections drop out.

If this happens, there are a few things you can do to fix the connection. Here are a few ways you can troubleshoot:

  • Have you downloaded and installed the latest version of software for your cell phone?
    • It is important to regularly download and install software updates provided by the cell phone manufacturer. These updates protect your device from viruses and hacking, as well as improve the device’s operation.
    • Note that a software update may require you to completely switch off the phone for a minute before switching it back on.
  • Have you downloaded and installed the latest version of software for the app?
    • If your phone has had a software update, check to see whether your apps also require updating. Occasionally, an update to the device will require an update to the app as well.
  • Did your hearing aids lose its Bluetooth pairing?
    • It is possible that you can fix Bluetooth streaming issues by re-pairing your devices in either the Bluetooth or Accessibility screen in your phone’s General Settings.
    • Remember to turn the hearing aids off and on and place them within a few inches of the phone before re-pairing.

If you are still having Bluetooth issues, we encourage you to come to our Walk-In Clinic (Tuesdays 10:00am – 11:30am and Thursdays 1:00pm – 2:30pm) at the Hearing Center for help troubleshooting your connection.