Any aids with (battery friendly) BLE?

Bluetooth Low Energy seems to really have taken off. I’m not sure which phones support it, but I think it might be a better platform for audio control and low bandwidth audio itself than “classic” bluetooth. Anyone know if there has been any uptake in the industry? Is Made for iPhone or whatever it’s called strictly Bluetooth Classic or is there more to it?

I’m not an iPhone person myself and any streaming I’ve done has been underwhelming either for audio quality (Siemens) or battery life (Starkey). I have to say that the Starkey audio quality over 900MHz was not bad and the range was excellent. Unfortunately it seems everyone has gone 2.4GHz. Busiest band on the planet. Hopefully some day BLE will usher in a standard that works as well as MIDI did for the music and cell phone industries.

I ask this question after seeing/posting this in the “articles” area of the forum:

NXP and Widex Team for Wireless Audio Streaming Hearing Aids

NXP Semiconductors and Widex announced that they have collaborated to develop, test and integrate NXP’s NxH2003 Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) audio streaming SoC into Widex BEYOND hearing aids. The two companies worked closely together throughout the product development cycle, merging the best of hearing aid engineering and wireless audio streaming semiconductor technology, to deliver hearing aid devices that can stream wireless audio from an iOS device, consuming only 2.8 mA current at 1.2 Volts, which is best in industry. This allows end users to enjoy music directly from their personal devices for prolonged periods of time.

I have the Beyond. I am getting about 96 hours out of a 312 battery with a bit of daily streaming of phone calls. Not too bad, I don’t think. The quality of the call far surpasses that which I get by putting the phone to my aid.

Thanks for the info. I wonder what technology the current Beyond devices use is? Meaning is the press release referring to aids already on the market or just about to arrive on the market. Hmmm.

I should clarify though … I had good success placing my phone to my ear using in-the-ear aids. Poor success placing my phone next to the mic above my ear in my RIC’s. And for me poor phone over Bluetooth, but I think the Siemens wireless technology that I have is old and lousy.

Widex is using a form of BLE, Apple proprietary format. It’s crystal clear and has completely changed my attitude about taking phone calls.

Thanks. Good info.

Go to BuyHear.com and click on “iPhone Direct” and you’ll find all the brands they sell that have Apple proprietary BLE support (namely iPhone Direct or Made For iPhone). Notably missing is Phonak, Unitron, Rexton. They don’t sell Starkey but I think Starkey is probably the first brand that has iPhone Direct option.

I’m not sure what the big deal is on the NXP/Widex announcement, especially since it’s still talking about supporting BLE for iOS only here. Almost everybody already is on this bandwagon and have iPhone Direct support.

The big deal is to see now that there’s a new BLE 5.0 standard, which Android phone mfg will be the first to start providing support for that so that the HA mfgs will start providing BLE support directly for Android phones. So far the Samsung S8 and S8+, the Xiami MI 6 and the OnePlus 5 are listed as having BLE 5.0 support in them. So now let’s see which HA mfg will be the first to start providing BLE support for those Android models.

And I just bought a Samsung S7 last year. :frowning:

Thanks for all the useful and detailed info. You’ve probably saved me hours of web scouring.

I assume you’ve switched from Costco to an Audiologist judging by your signature. How was that experience?

Yeah, I used to buy HAs exclusively from Costco because I never had insurance that covers HAs or if I had it, I never could satisfy my high deductible to qualify. But last year I was in a unique position of having insurance that covers 95% of the HA cost after deductible and happened to exhaust my deductible on other things. So I was able to afford to go through an audi channel to get a more premium/new model and only pay for 5% of it.

As far as experience going through Costco or an independent audi channel, the experience was not very different to me. I’d say that Costco offer just as good service and they offer a longer trial period than the audi channel.

My Resound Linx3D are BLE. They use the BLE both to program and to pair with the application on either the iPhone (which I use extensively) or Android, which I’ve not tried yet.

The Resound (and the Widex mention above) support the “Made for the iPhone” hearing aid protocol. It’s a proprietary set of features over the BLE GATT protocol to provide some basic control (you can adjust the volume, change the program, and stream sound to the HA). It all comes up on a triple-click of your HOME button and obviates the need to carry a remote for your hearing aid. Resoound adds further BLE controls to tweak various parameters on the hearing aid (base/treble, noise and wind suppression in certain modes, speech focus in certain modes, etc…). You can also geo enable it and load up a favorite mode when you go into a certain location.

Nice watch version of the app as well.

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As far as I know, there’s no direct streaming available between HAs and Android phones yet (only for iPhones and iOS so far). There’s INDIRECT streaming via a neck streamer for Android phones where the neck streamer interfaces via BT with the Android phone and via BLE with the HA. But no direct streaming with Android because most current Android phones don’t support the new BLE 5.0 yet. For the new Androids that support the BLE 5.0 like S8, the HA mfgs now in turn has to tweak their HAs to support BLE 5.0 as well. But I haven’t seen any HA mfg done this tweak yet.

That’s certainly the case for Resound. The app lets you tweak all the HA parameters but you need to use a phoneclip to gateway the regular BT to the aids. Note that the firmware may need to be upgraded in the HA to get them to work as well. Even the Relief app uses the iphones streaming interface .

The Oticon OPN is also MFI and, I assume, uses Apple’s BLE. At least one doesn’t pair them using the normal Bluetooth mechanism.

If they show up on the HEARING AIDS section of the Accessibility tab (or the triple-click), then it’s a made-for-the-iphone device.

They do show up there. I can also tell they use BLE because the OPN app takes so long to connect.

All HAs that are MFI/iPhone direct uses Apple’s proprietary BLE. However, they may use other BLE protocols with their own streamers. For example, Oticon licenses and uses the CEVA RivieraWaves BLE protocol for their TV Adapter 3.0 streamer. Apparently Widex is using the NXP BLE protocol as mentioned in the original post in this thread.

But finally now that a standard (the BLE 5.0) has become available, future Android phones (starting with the Samsung S8) will start adopting this standard and hopefully the HA mfgs will start making their HAs work with the Android phones via this BLE 5.0 standard.

Battery life really depends on how much you expect the HAs to deal with in a given time frame. If you’re traveling in a car over rough mountain roads, hauling a trailer and heavy gear, chances are good you’ll consume more fuel than if you were stuck in traffic alone idling your engine. Use that analogy with the power from your HA batteries- are you streaming sounds in from your phone or tv equipment as well as processing the normal environmental sounds you encounter daily? Are you in a noisy environment? Are you in a quiet room, driving a tractor or in a construction zone? Are you in lengthy conferences or a library?

Is it worth it to you to fret over battery life squeeze every bit of juice out of a couple of 312s, or do you simply want to hear things well? For me, it’s more about hearing clearly. The Bluetooth phone deal is still taking some getting used to - I can’t lip read when listening through the phone. Am I trying to hear the caller through the phone or through the vehicle? What other sounds are going on when the phone calls come in? This isn’t the old corded landline mounted to the wall in the hall so I’m probably moving around and talking to a caller who is also moving around and likely has their own background noises going on. That’s expecting quite a lot from not only the HAs but also the brain. Adding expectations for Maximum Battery Performance on top of all that? Why?

I’m not across the technicalities (any of them) of Bluetooth. However, from ​New Bluetooth better at traveling through walls - CNET, a quote from the executive director of the Bluetooth SIG:

“The organization is in the thick of some work to move all the audio applications onto the low-energy radio,” Powell said. The result should be lower power consumption, shorter delays when starting to play music and better sound quality through new compression technology. The first priority, though, will be Bluetooth-powered hearing aids, he said.

It appears Apple hasn’t done anything significant other than to embrace the Intel “Moore’s Law” design for BT/WiFi. In 2012, Intel released the specs. It will be fully implemented in the BT 5.0 standard. Yes, their driver is different from BT 4.x but it is really the hardware that makes it possible. The real change is hardware based. It allows much lower power for transmitting digital to analog signals. The current dies use 14/16 nm and the move to 10 nm will produce another notable power reduction. Power is the key limit with aids.

Great discussion. I opted for the 900MHz Starkey offering because I can still use my Surflink Remote and Programmer. Maybe my next pair will be BLE or whatever flavour of the month is by then. Nice thing about 900MHz is the range.