eAudiology, Technology

Making hearing aid users their own personal “MacGyver”

There are smartphone features and apps on Bluetooth enabled devices that can help hearing aid users compensate for listening challenges and improve their listening experience.

The smartphone is the most widely used electronic device we use every day. With features and apps, we can quickly get information about weather, time, steps, news and much more. There is no other device that offers us so many different functions and is always available within a hands reach. With more and more hearing aids being able to directly connect to Bluetooth, hearing aid wearers can experience additional support by just using their smartphones. However, there’s no question about it, some features and apps are not optimal regarding their usability or quality.

What does this mean for someone with hearing loss

Curiosity is often rewarded with success and isn´t it nice to know that with smartphone features and apps, those with hearing loss can overcome a few challenging listening situations and can be their own personal ‘MacGyver’.

There are a few smartphone applications in the market that are not talked about much but I think will be very useful for people wearing hearing aids to master their listening situation, including text transcription during phone calls, sound alerts, remote fine-tuning of hearing aids and using the smartphone as an external microphone.

Handling phone calls

Even with the best hearing aid solution, phone calls can still be difficult to understand, particularly for people with moderate to profound hearing losses and in background noise.

The Phonak myCall-to-Text app for Android and iOS smartphones was specially designed for hearing aid wearers. When the hearing aid wearer receives a phone call, they can at the same time listen to the phone call and read the conversation in text. The app supports 80 languages and can save the call history even after the phone call has ended. It works well with the Phonak Marvel hearing aids as you have the ability to easily read the text on the screen of the phone while calling (available in 3 font sizes), and it is also possible to use this App with other hearing aids or without hearing aids at all.

Recently, Google decided to support people with hearing loss who use smartphone and released a new app that takes the needs of people with hearing loss into account. The Android Live Transcribe app, which is comparable to the free trial version of the Phonak myCall-to-Text app, provides text support during a phone call. These apps can offer more confidence and security to those with hearing loss, for example, to handle personal or business calls on their own. The Phonak myCall-to-Text app offers three different services for Apple iOS and Android, regardless of the type of hearing aid.

Making real-time adjustments to hearing aids

An app function worth mentioning is the Remote Support function in the myPhonak app. With this function, hearing aid wearers can get remote fine-tuning of Phonak Audéo Marvel hearing aids from virtually anywhere in the world. They can communicate by audio and video with a hearing care professional to detail their specific hearing challenge and get real-time adjustments to improve their listening experience.

Ensuring safety, security and comfort

The app, Sound Alert, allows one’s smartphone to be turned into an alerting device. The application functions by picking up sounds using the smartphone’s microphone then notifying the user through on screen notifications, vibrations, and flashing lights on the device. It is able to recognize a wide range of detectable sounds, such as a doorbell or smoke detector, that help ensure safety, security and comfort for those with hearing loss.

Managing challenges over distance

Another tip is to use the smartphone as an external microphone to improve the challenges over distance between communication partners and the wearer.

Both Android® and iOS® offer the possibility to use the smartphone as an external microphone and receive the signal via wireless headphones or for people with hearing loss via Phonak Marvel hearing aids. However, the areas of application are limited, as not every situation is suitable to give your smartphone to strangers.

A manageable or familiar environment is therefore more suitable to hand over the smartphone to a speaker or to place it in the middle of the table. Android currently requires an app for this function, such as, Microphone app. The Apple “Live Listen” feature, on the other hand, has been available since iOS 12 and can be used to transmit the microphone signal with a small time delay

No smartphone substitutes for accessories like Roger

These smartphone features cannot compete with individual hearing aid accessories such as Roger™ microphones, which can be individually adapted by hearing care professionals. Nevertheless, these self-help tips show that there are apps and smartphone features that can support people with hearing aids such as Phonak Marvel.

The future looks interesting and I am looking forward to seeing what new symbioses between smartphones and hearing aids there will be to support people with hearing loss in the everyday life.

 

 

To learn more about why Roger is the best solution for overcoming noise and distance , I invite you to read a previous blog post by Dr. Jacqueline Drexler.

 

 

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