GN Hearing first to support direct Android streaming using ASHA

GN Hearing Becomes World’s First to Support Direct Android Streaming to Hearing Devices Using Bluetooth Low Energy

Collaboration with Google on hearing aid specification now officially brings direct streaming of music, phone calls and other sound to people with hearing loss. For the first time, people can stream sound from their compatible Android devices to their ReSound hearing aids using Bluetooth Low Energy.

September 03, 2019 01:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time

BALLERUP, Denmark–(BUSINESS WIRE)–GN Hearing, the global leader in hearing aid connectivity, and Cochlear, the global leader in implantable hearing solutions, together with Google, today announce world-first support for direct streaming from Android™ devices to hearing devices for the first time using Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE).

The new technology is based on a recent hearing aid specification, Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA) on Bluetooth Low Energy Connection-Oriented Channels, which Google has developed in collaboration with GN Hearing and Cochlear. This new direct streaming technology from compatible* Android devices allows people to use their hearing devices like a headset to enjoy music, take calls and much more, while using a protocol designed to maximise battery life.(1)(2) With BLE, people can use technology designed for streaming all day while preserving the battery life of their hearing devices, which is a challenge for the traditional Classic Bluetooth streaming currently available.

“We’ve partnered up with some of the leading technology companies in the world to deliver innovation with the user at heart. Now people with hearing loss can enjoy effortless streaming all day long and easily connect with people,” says Jakob Gudbrand, CEO and President of GN Hearing.

Around 466 million people worldwide live with disabling hearing loss**, and the number is increasing by millions every year, according to the World Health Organization.(3) With the official release of Android 10, Google Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, and Pixel 3a XL* will be the first Android phones to support direct streaming to ReSound LiNX Quattro™ and Beltone Amaze™ hearing aids. The new streaming technology will be available by way of an update to Android 10, plus a software update on the hearing devices. The streaming specification is open source, which allows other manufacturers of hearing aids and Android devices to offer direct audio streaming in the near future.

About GN

The GN Group is a global leader in intelligent audio solutions that let you hear more, do more and be more than you ever thought possible. Our ambitious 150-year journey has taken us from telegraph cables to radio waves and intelligent audio engineering. To celebrate our anniversary, we look to our unique competences within medical, professional and consumer audio solutions to help us continue to transform lives through the power of sound.

GN was founded with a truly innovative and global mindset. Today, we honor that legacy with world-leading expertise in the human ear, sound, wireless technology, miniaturization and collaborations with leading technology partners. GN’s solutions are marketed by the brands ReSound, Beltone, Interton, Jabra and BlueParrott in 100 countries. Founded in 1869, the GN Group employs more than 6,000 people and is listed on Nasdaq Copenhagen.

Visit our homepage GN.com - and connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

(1) Cochlear Limited. D1140877. Battery Life and Power Consumption Comparison between CP1000, CP900 Series and CP810 Sound Processors. 2017, Mar; Data on file.

(2) Direct streaming is possible from Android devices running on Android operating system version 10 and using Bluetooth version 5.0 to ReSound LiNX Quattro and Beltone Amaze hearing aids and the Cochlear™ Nucleus® 7 Sound Processor.

(3) World Health Organization (WHO): deafness and hearing loss, March 2019. Available at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/deafness-and-hearing-loss. Last accessed August 8, 2019.

*For compatibility information and devices visit resound.com/compatibility. Cochlear will separately announce availability of cochlear implant sound processors with the ability to stream directly from Android devices. Full streaming compatibility with Android devices requires minimum Android version 10 and Bluetooth 5.0 and that functionality has been enabled by the phone manufacturer and service carrier. Accordingly, the compatibility information provided should be used for reference only. Although GN strives to achieve seamless device compatibilities, GN cannot guarantee full compatibility with all Android devices.

**Disabling hearing loss refers to hearing loss greater than 40dB in the better hearing ear in adults and a hearing loss greater than 30dB in the better hearing ear in children.

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Interesting to hear that it will use BT5. Surprised to see on Pixel 3 and 3a listed as Pixel 2 was also BT5. Nice finally having info coming to light. We’ve been waiting on this a long time. Questions to be answered: 1) How quickly other Android phone makers will jump on board and 2) How quickly other hearing aid makers will.

Well, @#$%&!!!

I’ve had a Google Pixel 2 XL for going on two years. Costco ReSound Forte 8 HAs for just over a year. Now I need to buy another, newer Pixel phone and new HAs to use direct streaming? That means something like $7K - $8K + to get direct Android support. No,thank you. I wanted to come back to Android, having been a dedicated Android user, buying Goolge Nexus, then Pixel phones for years.

I tried an iPhone to use with my HAs a year ago, and was very pleasantly surprised, so I committed to an iPhone Xs max and Apple Watch 4 upon release last year. I’ve been bidding time, waiting for this Android direct HA support to occur.

I just see going back to Android as an awfully expensive backward move. Just release Android support vs ~10 years if MFI support? I still don’t feel the same commitment to Apple that I did Google, but that is quickly changing, especially with this sad (for me) news.

My $60,000 question is whether or not the ReSound Preza (Costco’s Quattro) will have the software update.

Highly unlikely. They mentioned the Quattro and a beltone model.

Hmm, I notice these hearing aid are not Resound Linx Quattro RIC and notice the Nucleus Smart app are in demo mode… I don’t really know why they are in demo mode when they specifically said that the user has a Nucleus 7

Yes!!!
It’s a good news. On the one hand, I will get what I wanted. On the other hand, I will update the phone.
I can add that there are updates for SmartFit (latest version 1.5), a mobile program from Google Play and software for Noahlink.

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OK, some of you know me as a naysayer about audio over BLE.

My engineering analysis was that they would have to compress the heck out of it to get it through the low bandwidth of the BLE link.

Here in the article below it states “With a bandwidth of up to 9.5 kHz, a greater range of high-frequency sounds is accessible to people with hearing loss.”

Well, I don’t know what it’s “greater” than, but most hi-fi audio has a bandwidth of at least 15KHz. So there is a great degree of compromise, but in all fairness, the HA receivers (speakers) probably don’t have any more bandwidth than the ASHA link specs.

Will the Costco Preza 862 be updated to stream directly to Android 10 when release for more than the pixl ?

I doubt anybody who knows is at liberty to say. I’m guessing it would be awhile (several months or more–but I’m just guessing) It’s possible that it would be an upgrade–possible it’s a whole new model.

It’s a fine point but I think the issue is whether Android 10 will be able to stream TO a particular hearing aid, not the other way around.

Or whether a particular HA can pair with and stream FROM an Android 10 phone.

Not trying to be a jerk, just an engineer who’s a little bit compulsive about the precision of language because it matters in tech stuff.

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I just got notification of 100043.4300 update today! ASHA enabled?

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I tested it, it actually streams directly from pixel 3a!

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And phone calls? Does it perchance use the HA mic’s or does it still need the phone mic?

It requires phone mic and phone calls works too

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Still nice to see another non-Apple option.

That sounds like a much better solution to the Android issue than the Phonak Marvels and KS9 have.

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I had the notification earlier & now my App is saying my software is up-to-date at 10040.4000. :frowning:

Agreed, hopefully the KS10 will have it. Can’t beat the value proposition of the KS9s at the moment, though.

No wonder hearing aid manufacturers consider us fickle. A “hands free” phone experience has been the mantra for years. The Marvels have that. ASHA doesn’t.