How Phonak Achieved Universal Bluetooth Hearing Aid Connectivity

#1
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#2

If they figure out the single pairing problem then I will be impressed

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#3

Great article. Great technology. Although Figures 3 and 4 still show that as great and efficient as the SWORD chip is, the Marvels still draw significantly more current streaming Classic BT than competitors do streaming using the MFI protocol.

The other highly informative point about the article is the oxygen starvation effect and premature shutdown that zinc air batteries can suffer if taxed with too high a power demand. Reads like an ad for Li-ion-powered HA’s! (described in the text right after Fig. 4 in the article).

“This is not relevant for rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries, which can deliver much higher peak currents and don’t require air.”

In spite of the “MARVELous” advance, the fact that a Quattro can stream 12 hours and only have its prospective battery life reduced from 30 to 24 hours (20%) whereas a Marvel can only stream 4 hours and has its battery life reduced from 24 to 16 hours (33%) shows that while the SWORD chip brought Classic BT streaming into the realm of possibility, it didn’t entirely overcome the serious current draw problem of Classic BT, as shown in Figs. 3 and 4 of the article. Not to diminish the Marvels at all. They are great HA’s and most people probably do not want to stream much more than 4 hours a day, anyway. And perhaps eventual further reduction in chip die size will make Classic BT streaming even more practical or maybe finally Apple and Google will get together, along with other interests, and come up with a universal low-energy streaming standard that’s also backwards compatible with BT Classic, if you don’t mind burning a little more juice to use that protocol with older devices. Here hopin’ !

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#4

Agree it’s not perfect (with regard to battery life), but as an Android user, and someone who uses Bluetooth daily on other devices, it would be my goto… Hopefully future iterations will improve battery life.

Would love that!

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#5

Still find it fascinating how much bigger of a manufacturing process hearing aids use compared to smartphones and computers. Phonak is apparently a leader dropping down to 40 nm whereas other manufacturers use 65 nm. Run of the mill smartphones use 14nm process and flagships I think are down to 7nm. I’m thinking if hearing aids could get anywhere near close they could be notably more energy efficient. Although admittedly it’s not going to impact the energy the receiver draws.

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#6

a lot of it is the cost of the per unit to manufacture the chips. The smaller you make it the more it cost to manufacture the chips.

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#7

Yes, there is the On Semiconductor Whitepaper (2nd link in forum post referenced below) on processor development that has a graph of the increasing cost of development vs. shrinking the size of the chip die. The first link (Oticon Whitepaper in referenced post) mentions that current HA’s have a processor about equivalent to a 90’s Intel Pentium chip - that will run for a week on a minuscule zinc-air battery at 2 to 3 mA current draw at 1.3 volts, or something like that.

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#8

BTW, the following quote out of the article Abram Bailey referenced would seem to imply that when MFA comes along, the Marvels could be good-to-go with that as well. So one might have the best of both worlds, MFA streaming to Android phones (BT LE supported) (and MFI sometime???) and still have Classic BT as needed:

"SWORD not only utilizes Bluetooth Classic but also supports Bluetooth LE and other protocols. "

The quote is taken from under the heading " Solving the Bluetooth Classic challenges with the SWORD chipset."

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#9

Bluetooth 5 LE was developed for exactly this type of application.
Sony donated a better audio codec to Google that was delivered last year in Android software.
Phonak is trumpeting the development of ancient, inferior Bluetooth 4 here.
I’m confused.

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