Dealing with requirements for hands-free cell phones while driving

I’m in the process of getting my first HAs (male, early fifties w mild/moderate loss in left ear and moderate/severe loss in right ear). I live in an area where drivers may only use cell phones that are hands free and I’m trying to figure out approaches that will work for me. Now I use a regular bluetooth earpiece paired to my iPhone 4 (running OS 5 with the hearing aid compatibility option).

Obviously I can’t stick a bluetooth earpiece in an ear that has an HA in it already. My existing iPhone/bluetooth headset setup works OK with my better ear, but I’m concerned about having to take out the HA and substitute the earpiece and then losing the HA. Wearing something around my neck all the time seems like more adjustment than I want to make from a logistics perspective. I’m generally leery of technology solutions that involve lots of little things that are easy to misplace or lose–never mind being expensive (my audiologist is recommending Starkey Wi series).

A microphone clip seems like an ideal solution, but my impression is that the iPhone will only pair with one device at a time (either the bluetooth HAs for listening or the bluetooth mic for talking).

I actually don’t drive and talk all that much, but I hate to miss important calls. I suppose one low-tech alternative is just to use the loudspeaker option on the iPhone and leave it in a dash mounted cup holder.

Any thoughts? I’m curious what other HA users are doing. Thanks.

My car slaves itself via bluetooth and the audio system of the car picks up the conversation. Awesome option!

The Starkey Wi Series are excellent aids, but currently they only have an audio streamer option designed for television viewing, not an option with the microphone needed for Bluetooth to a cellphone.

I think some people have used other Bluetooth solutions to talk with the Wi using their t-coil.

The problem is that any radio frequency equipped aid needs to be very low level to pass health device standards. Devices, such as the streamer, can use higher power to adjust for that because the audio only needs to travel from the streamer to the aids.

ZCT usually has a good idea what options Starkey may have soon, but I suspect he is bound by non-disclosure agreement from sharing with us.

The patients I have using hands-free devices have paired them with the iPhone without any problems. The phone can be paired to multiple bluetooth devices, but it can’t use more than one at a time. Bluetooth use with hearing aids don’t have separate connections for hearing and for talking. For example, the phone clip with the ReSound hearing aid transmits the signal to the hearing aids to be heard and serves as the mic which picks up your voice. The iCom with Phonak uses the box to pick up the bluetooth signal and transmit it to the hearing aids via the neck-loop. The box also is the microphone. This is, in general, how all bluetooth devices that you use with hearing aids work. One unit that is the transmitter to the hearing aid as well as the microphone.

Patients who I have wearing them really like them and have few problems.

I have one of these and it works very well.

I use Resound Future hearing aids. The Future is Costco’s version of the Resound Alera. I also use the Resound Phone Clip. It will receive music from your phone if your phone has A2DP and I would assume the iphone has that. The quality is not great but for a phone call, getting it in both ears and having everything else hushed during the call is neat. The phone clip microphone picks up everything in the area and transmits it to your caller and that is a widely discussed problem. Mine works fine and my callers can hear my voice loud and clear but they think I’m in a loud area and they will speak up and ask me if I can hear them, which I can, perfectly.

OK, here is the twist. I wear it under my shirt on a lanyard. I wear it over my t-shirt and under my outer shirt. It still picks up fine that way and is somewhat secured and does not fly around when I bend over or turn around. The phone clip has one button so as long as I can feel it through the shirt it’s not a problem.

The phone clip has a clip and you can clip it to your shirt but it just doesn’t seem secure that way. I tried clipping it over my shirt pocket and that works ok but the phone clip doesn’t do really well when you get it off-center. It works better on a lanyard, right in the middle, about nip high.

Well, now the NTSB wants all driver telephone activity banned. Distracted driving is a very dangerous thing, but with things like BlueTooth connections to the car, I think they should prohibit any use of the phone handset while in motion. I can tell the car to call someone by name and answer an incoming call with nothing more that one button push on the steering wheel yoke.