Bluetooth, hearing aids, and consumer products. Will there be a crossover?


#1

There has been a lot of bantering about in different threads about Bluetooth, MiFi, BLE, Apple and Android. The discussions almost always end up with comments that the HA market being somewhat limited is what hinders and new standards or product development. Personally, I think the HA market is a large industry. I also think that the general consumer market is much larger industry. I also think that the technology and standards from one will cross over into the other.

For example, a recent Staples flier had some Skullcandy wireless Bluetooth earbuds with a 9 hr streaming life.
Skullcandy_Earphone_METHODBT

That got me to thinking that I would prefer a streamer shaped like that. Something that simply slips over your neck and does not dangle when you lean over. And does not rustle under your clothing if you are talking on the phone. Last week, I almost lost my Compilot Air II when it got caught on my seatbelt. A streamer designed like this, would be just more damn convenient and comfortable.

Given that this was not the only product in the flyer that wanted to connect ear buds via Bluetooth getting rid of as much wire as possible. It led me to believe that the general consumer wants wireless connections to their ears as well. With 2 distinct markets seemingly wanting the same thing, I think it is only a matter of time before someone comes up with a suitable standard and suitable products.

What do you think?


#2

You’ve seen these right?


#3

No, but they are interesting. I was thinking of something more along the lines of these.


#4

I would suspect that the continuing stigma and vanity of wearing hearing aids will continue.
The mostly discrete nature of hearing aids is, I think, the main attraction. I think people will still hate to admit that they need some kind of physical assistance. The same as eye glasses. People get laser surgery so they can stop wearing glasses. Why?..for vanity. People don’t like to need help. They might think it makes them look old. Which, of course, usually they are. And yet, others would wear glasses as just a fashion accessory anyway so who knows. I can still get by using readers but even that’s a hassle and an admission of aging.

Would one wear these obvious “headphones” for real hearing assistance or just for streaming from a device and think they look cool being all hands free and all. Or of course both. I’m assuming they’re really just in the simple PSAP level of assistance.

Being in the mild to moderate loss category…I would wish for hearing assistance that offers independent left and right sound frequency adjustments of however many bands. Like an equalizer but for both sides. I would want them to be small and lightweight so as to not be all that visible other than up close “oh…you wear hearing aids?”. I would want them to be able to process sounds for different listening environments. I would want them to be able to connect to any device (not just Apple) and provide full stereo for inherently stereo sources. Mono for inherently mono sources would be fine with me with the option of playing the same sound on both sides.

Oh look…hearing aids. Or PSAP’s. Not yet, unfortunately, for some of these wishes.

I guess I’m saying I’m not all that interested in these bigger things hanging around somehow when I can have small, light things instead. Apparently theft can be an issue too and with bigger devices that would be easier.

Those are my thoughts for a start.


#5

If your’re looking for crossover: IQbuds Boost with EarID- Hear Your Own Way | Nuheara


#6

I suppose a problem I would have with these stick-in-your-ear type PSAP’s is that I seem to have issues with closed/sealed ear canals. If only just to stay in and not fall out. It seems my ears have to be able to release pressure thus I use open domes. For sound quality I would REALLY rather use closed domes but I can’t stand the pressure build-up.
@d_Wooluf: Nice looking product though. It does exactly what I was suggesting these things should be able to do. Receive the bluetooth stereo signal in the left side and play the left side in the left side and then relay the right side to the right side.


#7

I think Amazon has them for almost $50 less. :slight_smile:


Compare that to BT devices for our aids that run $200 and more.


#8

I have a real problem with occlusion. My loss indicates the need for closed domes or molds but hearing my own voice really bugs me. I am told I will get used to this but it only seems to get worse, not better. I thought just having something in my ear would bother me, but with the exception of the domes causing itching, they don’t bother me all that much. Having to use open domes and being bothered even with those limits the amount of good aids can do for me. Sorry, I didn’t mean to hijack the thread.


#9

I am excited about the IQbuds Boost. Waiting for Cliff Olson’s video review!


#10

If you were on the other side of the border, you might look at currencies a bit differently.
The $89.99 on the manufacturer site is Canadian dollar list price.
The $39.99 on Amazon.com is a USD price.
Which comes close when converting to the $50.99 CAD sale price on Staples.ca

I do get your point on being gouged on BT devices for HA’s.


#11

HalfEar: That and shipping. And if you don’t use USPS…look out.:astonished:


#12

I would opt for laser surgery and lose the glasses, but for reasons other than vanity. I love water sports. I love to snorkel, ski, swim laps. I love to play in the ocean, and take float trips in a raft, kayak, or canoe. Glasses are a pain. I am no longer a candidate for contacts. My last snorkel trip I just missed things at a distance of 3’ or more because I lost clarity without my glasses. They also fog. While in Thailand recently, the earpiece broke. Thank goodness for a very innovative motel staff who fixed them for me or I would have been reduced to wearing my backup pair, which is really not all that helpful. My nephew had the surgery. He is involved in quad races and biking, and goggles just didn’t work well with his glasses.


#13

If you can pull a few strings, I could drive over any time and borrow a pair for the afternoon. I agree. Really interesting product in prospect.


#14

Tabaker: Fair enough. Good to know. Thanks for the feedback.


#15

:wink: Our Amerifriends have a real hard time understanding why we love their postal system.


#16

Well…for me, it’s not so much loving their postal system as it is that getting things from the US by mail doesn’t incur brokerage and taxes that a full-on courier wants to charge us upon delivery. When once I had a little business going I had something sent from the US by mail. Our Canada Post charged me like $5 to give it to me (it was a while ago). I’ve never as a private citizen been charged anything extra.


#17

I was going about writing a whole long thing about iphone and android phones and my gripe about mfi and why can’t the manufacturers use the bluetooth low energy that’s in most phones etc when I came across mention of Apple making their own extension of bluetooth low energy that they call bluetooth low energy audio. Ah hah. So they have after all made their own thing.

So then all we can do is wait and see if the standard bluetooth body will bring it into the fold. As if. Or maybe someone will reverse engineer it and make something like it available as more of an open solution. Unlike Apple’s customary closed world.


#18

That is my thoughts. It might start with the Hearing Aids, but I would like to think that the consumer products are what will drive the change. Much like electric cars are driving development of battery technology, yet that technology can and will be used elsewhere.


#19

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has a bunch of working groups, one of which is the Hearing Aid Working Group. Hear’s the thing, though. Look at the composition of this and other working groups and you’ll find representatives of a bunch of companies and special interests, many of whom are in competition with each other. I’ve no idea how often they meet, but I’m assuming not very often. Emails and Skype hook-ups I’d say. So it’s no surprised that they take forever to decide anything.

There’s this thing called Bluetooth 5 that’s been out for over a year. It’s the foundation for the next generation of Bluetooth audio and hearing aid technology but until they actually decide on the final specifications for those audio and hearing aid protocols it’s pretty much useless to us. Even when they release those specifications, it may mean years before the manufacturers build the hardware.

Meanwhile, there’s finally signs of work going on at Google. Code is being developed for hearing aid support. Is this preliminary support for the Bluetooth 5 Hearing Aid Profile (when it finally arrives) or something else? I don’t see how they can be making their phones mfi compatible when mfi is ‘secret sauce’. As usual, nobody’s overloading the consumer with information.

Apple has total control over its own hardware and software and was big enough to strike deals with hearing aid companies. Google supplies the operating system, but Samsung and every other manufacturer is free to use its own hardware. Not much room there for a secret sauce solution. Hence, mfi has the space to itself.

Frustrating isn’t it?


#20

It’s frustrating as all heck get out. So the HA manufacturers have hitched their wagon to a closed proprietary solution leaving the #1 OS of everything out in the cold. Not that I’m a fan mind you :slight_smile:
@d_Wooluf: Some of what you say is part of what I was going about writing as a way of attempting to explain things as I understood them but then I found the Apple thing. Crap.

If only though eh? So the iqbuds apparently have a battery life of about 20 hours. I guess the drawback of not going into an android solution was that battery life would be problematic. That btle apparently doesn’t support audio. So what else are HA manufacturers to do to give the market SOMETHING with modern connectivity.