Loop / T-coil to Bluetooth adaptors

bluetooth
hearing-aids

#1

Hi, I’m an audio engineer and we currently have a loop / t-coil system that our hearing aid users use. Recently we’ve been getting more users with Bluetooth hearing aids that aren’t loop enabled.

We want to make sure all our users can hear our stream so I’ve looked into Bluetooth adapters / streamers.

It appears that each hearing aid manufacturer has their own Bluetooth configuration for their own hearing aids which means we’d have to support five or so different makes of streamer. Our budget wouldn’t stretch to that.

This seems a tad overkill given the loop is generic.

I’ve seen that most Bluetooth hearing aids regardless of manufacturer have the ability to link via Bluetooth headset profile (HSP) or Bluetooth handsfree profile (HFP).

So… is there such a thing as a “loop / t-coil to Bluetooth (HFP)” neckloop ?

The Bluetooth hearing aid user could could then pick up one at the door, use it for the session and pop it back afterwards.

I’ve done hours of searching and can only find neckloops that do the reverse, stream Bluetooth to a non Bluetooth enabled t-coil hearing aid.

Many thanks


#2

The basic problem as I see it is that the bluetooth you speak of is proprietary to Apple and their devices. You would need “Made for iphone” transmitters to transmit into those hearing aids.


#3

Bluetooth itself isn’t proprietary. The Bluetooth (HSP and HFP) profiles aren’t proprietary.
Apple does lock their version of Bluetooth down to devices that only they approve.
In my scenario I would be using generic T-coil to generic HSP / HFP so this wouldn’t be an issue.


#4

My understanding is that the HA’s will ONLY receive transmissions from a Made for iphone transmitting device like an iphone, ipad, ipod and apparently even the Apple watch.
Or as you wondered…the manufacturers own devices that would indeed get costly for you to offer all brands.
There’s only one HA so far that can receive transmissions from standard bluetooth.


#5

You might check with movie theaters. Some have a non-tcoil solution they provide. Not sure what it is.

@rasmus_braun might suggest a solution for you. He’s our resident expert on HA hardware.


#6

KenP: I seem to think those would provide their own headphones that would work with his existing loop. Which may be a solution for the OP short of having some kind of made for iphone transmitter.


#7

That’s a good idea. I’ll check through with some of our cinema chains here in the UK.
Yes, anybody who could point me in the right direction would be very much appreciated.

On a side note, I see that the Bluetooth Hearing Aid Profile (HAP) is now available. Maybe this will take over as a generic standard as we move forward and we don’t end up with a VHS / Betamax - Blu ray / HDDVD standards debacle.


#8

Yes, whilst doing the research I did see providers that have a Bluetooth sending box which links into a charging rack of 8 or so over the ear headphones. I could see this in a museum or a tourist attraction but given our users already have a receiver already on them, I’m trying to keep it as subtle as possible.


#9

Yes I agree about the subtleties. It was just an option. I still think you’ll need Made for iphone (mfi) transmitters for current HA’s. Until bluetooth low energy stereo audio is standardized we’re stuck with mfi.
Maybe collect a bunch of used iphones without SIM’s (or ipod) and use those connected to your bluetoothed amplifier and hand out the phone (within about 30 feet or whatever the range is).

Edit: Come to think of it…I’m not sure that’s how the mfi thing works. I’m not an Apple guy.

Edit again: This might be interesting. And it’s from your neck of the woods.
Or this ios only.


#10

The new Bluetooth protocols have not yet made their way into many phones (Apples’ new models have it.). As the new phones switch to this the HA manufacturers will also, then we will see true connectivity for all but it is years away at present. I would think that if you tell your listeners that there is a loop available then they would be inclined to pick a HA with telecoil. I got it just in case and because it made only a tiny difference to HA size and no difference to price but I have not found anywhere to really use it.


#11

That’s the thing. The transitional period moving from loop / t-coil over to Bluetooth is mirrored with cars moving from petrol / gas over to electric. As the infrastructure isn’t there yet for full electric, it makes more sense to buy a hybrid car so you don’t get caught out.

This is true with your dual, loop and Bluetooth HA.

From what I’ve read, there are a number of HAs that have Bluetooth and are compatible with standard Bluetooth Hands Free Profile (not the Apple Made for iPhone flavour). As such the user could use an Android phone or even an older feature phone.

I find it hard to believe that there hasn’t been the same scenario I have where someone want to stream a t-coil feed into a Bluetooth HA.

I’m still looking. :slight_smile:


#12

I would keep the loop to accommodate those with a t-coil. It’s old technology and all but y’know…it works. And it’s discrete.
As far as I know, there is only one “Big Six” brand that uses standard bluetooth. Phonak. There are a number of lesser personal sound amplifiers (PSAP) that use the standard. The reason for the made for iphone is low power consumption and stereo audio. The Phonak and other lesser PSAP’s suck power and are mono.

Did you have a look at the couple products I found?


#13

Even if you find your device you’re going to have to put an explanatory sign at the door that’s bigger than the door. Your users are going to have to know if their aids or aids+streamer have Bluetooth (not BLE, but plain old BT) and how to pair them without coming to you for advice. You need to explore the issue of latency as well, especially as they would have the audio from the loudspeakers competing with what’s coming through their aids. I like the idea of the LImeOnAir thing, but that probably comes with its own set of issues. Edit: Didn’t see that the app isn’t free. That puts a bit of a dampener on it.


#14

That’s a great idea! Why have I never seen it? Edit: https://www.limeonair.com/


#15

I didn’t go looking too deep for details. Sucks that limeonair has a fee. Maybe there are others like it using something along the same lines.
I went looking for whether an iphone had an FM receiver in it. It doesn’t. (My Blackberry does…take that) But it lead me to receiving audio in other ways and then the online way occurred to me.
I don’t have itunes so I can’t see about the other thing I found.
It’s all filtered’s fault. He twigged different parts of my curiosity. :slight_smile:

Edit: Or this. The app is free too.

Unfortunately…all of these things still need the iphone to make that last mile connection to the HA’s. You can still use these things with the usual intermediate device though.


#16

Most movie theaters have caption devices now, as does mine. I think that what is meant by non-tcoil solutions.


#17

I am testing new Halo IQ that have a telecoil with them. tarkey Halo iQ RIC 13 i2400 Features
The Starkey Halo iQ RIC 13 i2400 has water resistant coating, telecoil, push button, disposable batteries, made for iphone, android compatibility, adjustment synchronization, processing channels, adjustment bands, unique amplification strategy, feedback suppression, noise reduction, frequency lowering, tinnitus relief, directionality, wind noise reduction, machine noise reduction, directionality, and noise reduction. Fewer features are available in lower technology levels: Starkey Halo iQ RIC 13 i2000 and Starkey Halo iQ RIC 13 i1600

Hardware Features
Water Resistant Coating
Surface Nanoshield
Telecoil
Push Button
Push Button: Program control
Disposable Batteries
Battery Size: 13
Made For iPhone
Lowest iOS Version: 9
Android Compatibility


#18

Sounds like an ad…


#19

I copied the specs from an ad, but that is what I am testing right now and the specs say a telecoil, but I have not been where one is to see how it works.


#20

You tend to find that there are more sound processing channels the more the HA cost to be able to filter out crowds etc.

It’s nice that they now have the tech to be able to fit t-coil and Bluetooth back into the same HA cavities that they could only fit either before. Of course this doesn’t help my stream users who had to buy theirs when they had to make a choice which of the two techs to use.

Personally I’d like to find some neckloop system that can tide them over until / if they have to upgrade and then can go for a hybrid HA.