Possible happy combo? Bluetooth Phone and Hearing aids

New to the forum and I thought that I would try to contribute something that I found interesting.
Well, I lost my previous set of hearing aids a couple of years back and even at that time I was wanting some compatability with the Bluetooth phones. I have watched the different systems come out that use the small remote boxes to connect using FM signals to the hearing aids and thought what a waste of design.
When you look at the current level of Bluetooth earpieces, they are relatively small considering that they ALSO have the same basic sound processing and controls that hearing aids use. They also incorporate built in microphones and anti-feedback circuitry to prevent them from overpowering themselves when you are speaking. Some basic noise suppression and controls are built in and the better ones deliver reasonable music sounds also. So why hasn’t one of the various hearing aid manufacturers come up with a BTE that INCLUDES the circuitry that is used in the common $29.95-$100 Bluetooth earpiece? Something that would DIRECTLY connect to your hearing aids? NO Dongle hanging around your neck, no extra batteries for that accessory! It just hasn’t happened and I am tired of waiting.
So I was doing some research last week and happened on a website that made custom ear molds. NOT for hearing aids, but for sound control like in ear plugs AND for mounting Bluetooth Cellphone earpieces. I looked through their website and then emailed them with the important questions.
First, did they have ear molds that would work with my nice Jawbone Icon bluetooth earpiece? Answer was YES!
Second, their site showed that they often offered their earpieces with air vents so could they instead of setting up an air vent add a tubing path for a hearing aid tube connection? Answer was again YES! Said that they also made custom hearing aid earpieces and their “tech” said that he felt they could fit the aid tube along with the snap in mount for the Jawbone Icon. I mentioned that my ear was fairly large and they said that would also help in the fitting. So, I am once again in the market for some hearing aids AND I should have a nice Bluetooth connection directly to my ear at all times.
Third thing that I find interesting is the situation that these hearing aid companies are still mostly using replacement batteries. But I will bring that up in another post.
Thanks for listening, comments appreciated!

Swiss

Some aids like Resound have blue tooth. Have you looked at the current aids and what they offer.

Just read a little more on Resound Bluetooth. The aids are not Bluetooth just the signal from the phone clip to the call phone. With so many bluetooth devices out there it may be asking to much to filter for just the one device you want and also do all the DSP that must happen. Just guessing

Siemens miniTek is far and away the best BT solution out there today.

Having fitted a few of these, the one that people seem to like the most is the M-Dex.

I’d put the Tek units at the same level as the Compilot and the I-Com a bit lower down the line. The Resound gear features some nice touches too.
The oticon streamer is lagging a bit now and could do with an upgrade.

The current bluetooth technology works much better than what you are proposing. You are proposing to use your hearing aids and use your Jawbone on the same ear, but the Jawbone is not going through your hearing aids, they will just co-exist. With the current bluetooth technology of the hearing aid manufacturers the sound goes through your hearing aids and into both ears so the frequencies are “corrected” for your hearing loss. Plus it is your choice how much your microphones are reduced or muted during a call. Phone calls are much better going through both ears.

You will always need a separate device because of the need for a microphone.

Motorola makes some bluetooth devices that have a speaker pad instead of an ear bud so they don’t interfere with most hearing aids. I tried that for a while but my hearing was too bad to use it, only getting it through my natural hearing.

I think it would be interesting if the hearing aid manufacturers made a bluetooth device shaped like the current devices like the Plantronics. Seems like it would be easy to transmit to the hearing aids if it was already hanging on the ear, instead of hanging on a lanyard like mine, under my shirt.

I would rather have replaceable batteries because if it goes dead, you are done until you can recharge it. So far, Siemens/Rexton has the best approach to rechargeable, using rechargeable replaceable batteries but making the contacts into the body of the hearing aid so you can just plop the whole hearing aid down in the charger. I loved that feature when I was trialing those.

plus if your rechargeable battery goes down you can always pop in a regular battery. With the Rexton and the 312 battery I could get 14 hours which was a little short of what I needed. with the Pure’s and a size 13 battery I have no problem getting through a long day. 6am to 11p.

Well, the idea of separate device in order to allow a microphone isn’t really correct. Very small “boom” mics exist in the cell phone earpiece market. Basically about 1/8" diameter tube directed towards the front of your face and close to the jawbone to pickup your speech. It wouldn’t have to be very long and many earpieces don’t even use them, having a mic port within about 1" of the ear center. The real thing is that as you said it would be “interesting” for the hearing aid manufacturers to build a combination unit with linked audio between both aids. It wouldn’t have to be overly large, maybe about like the BTE aids were a couple of years ago. Much of the processing ability of the units are similar and would not require duplication. Volume controls, filtering, and lots of other functions are really the same for a BTE aid and a Blue Tooth cell phone earpiece. Take the hearing aid and ADD the BTE functions to the aid. Use replaceable batteries that can be recharged if that works well. Don’t use external add ons to get the job done, engineer it right and build one unit.
For myself, I can hear the bluetooth Jawbone phone calls just fine without the boost of the hearing aid so I can function with a single earpiece unit that has a BTE hearing aid AND a Jawbone BT together. Since most hearing aids can be turned off easily while in the ear it wouldn’t be much trouble to reach up and flip the aid off during an incoming call. Not necessary in most environments, but in a high noise area probably a benefit. Answer the call with a touch on the Jawbone, at the same time flip off the BTE. Finish the call with a touch and turn the BTE back on.
Not a solution for everyone and certainly not for those whose hearing loss is severe enough that a normal cell phone earpiece doesn’t have the volume to work for them.

Haven’t yet looked at Resound, heard good and bad on this forum for the brand. Will look at all options, but not the necklace/belt box relay idea. Not for me.

Swiss

No, not one unit that is both hearing aid and BT device. I’m talking about a hearing aid BT device that looks like current, regular BT devices, and hang it on the ear. If the hearing aid and BT device were one unit you would be limited to always having the BT device hanging on your ear. BT uses more power so you need a unit big enough to have a separate battery.

I’ve never had a hearing aid that rurned off any other way than opening the battery door, which is not easy when in/on the ear.

Even though we have complaints about them from time to time, they do work and it is so much better getting phone calls in both ears. Mine is the Resound Phone Clip and as the name implies, it has a clip so you can clip it to your clothes or automobile visor, but I wear mine on a lanyard, under my shirt. Yes, people think I’m crazy when I’m on a call so usually, if I have a free hand, I will take the phone out and either hold it up or lay it in front of me.

Not a serious suggestion, but I think it would be neat to see someone superglue a Bluetooth headset to the face of a full-shell hearing aid!

I think you are mistaken here. The Resound devices talk to a secondary device - either a phone switch or a streamer by proprietary FM. The phone switch then communicates via Bluetooth to your phone.

I am on the phone many times during day (and evening). Once cell phone use became almost as cheap as landlines some years ago, I took to wearing a BT headset virtually all day. I could still continue using a computer, driving, looking thru files and still talk on the phone w.o. juggling a phone headset.
When I finally “gave in” to my need for a HA about 15 months ago, I had learned, here, that I should be able to use an open fit system which would allow me to use various phones as usual - including wearing a BT headset. My HMO provided the hearing test (incl. in my plan) but to save money on the HA, thought I’d go to Costco. They wanted to sell me a “closed” system. That would have meant all kinds of extra hardware and would have limited my use of various phones during the day. I went back to my HMO HA dispensing office. The great audi there looked at my chart and said she would recommend a mid-level open fit BTE Phonak.
I had never had trouble using/hearing on phone before. When the HA came and she set them up, I was able to use my Motorola BT just as well as before. Just put it on my ear as always and it has worked perfectly ever since.
Of course the style BT I use is one that fits ON the ear, not the type w. a protusion that goes into the ear.

 In response to a post above - my HA has 4 switch settings:  Normal, more amplified, less amplified, and off.   Someone above said he could only turn off an HA by opening the battery door.

Well, that’s true, I could use a program for mute but don’t currently need it for phone use. I have an open fit and use various phones (other than my cell) in the regular way, which is not ideal because of my level of hearing loss.

Your Costco person should have told you all your options but maybe they thought you would hear better with a closed dome or custom mold. I specifically asked for open fit and we even changed brands to accomodate that. Is the “all kinds of extra hardware” the phone device?

 What I have is my first HA.  She made a custom mold and I simply assumed that when you are spending $4k, everyone gets custom fitted molds as part of the package.  I was subsequently surprised, here, to learn that most people simply get "stock" molds.  (I gather the term "mold" and "dome" is the same thing - the part that inserts into your ear.)
By extra hardware - I gathered I would need to wear something (I think around my neck) that would somehow interact between my cell phone and HA system.  I gathered my ears would be "closed off" to all other phone access.   
  I wasn't ready to shut off my normal way of communication - which is mostly by phone.   As it turned out, the audi wasn't influenced by my desires - she recommended what I have from the start - before I had a chance to ask if there was something else.  When the Costco guy said I'd have to have a closed system - I asked how would I use a phone.  That's when he mentioned I'd basically be limited to use of one designated phone w. extra hardware.   (I may not recall all the details.)  I asked if there was any alternative.  He said "no".

The mold is the custom made piece that usually has a vent so you could probably use a regular phone.

The dome is the soft “tip” at the end of the receiver or tube. They slip on and off and are replaced every couple of months. Domes are off the shelf, not custom made.

 Nit-Pick -
     From your description:  I have a "mold" since it was custom made for my ears.  It is made of soft plastic and doesn't need to be replaced.   
     It sounds like a "dome" is the same thing, (the part that's at the end of the tube) but is not custom fitted to the ear and needs to be replaced fairly often.   
  I still don't understand why the general way of doing business - even with a $4K product - is not to give the customer a "dome" that's custom fitted to his/her ear.  No two ear canals and outer ears are the same.

I guess the short answer is that it’s not needed if the person can have an open fit, and the soft domes are very comfortable and conform to the shape of the canal. So comfort and openness.

Domes look completely different than a custom mold so if you saw one all your questions should be answered.

My wife has severe hearing loss & both of us have worn Siemens Centra Active HAs since 2007- Jan. 2008. Our Audi is suggesting my wife go to Siemens Pure micon HAs with the MiniTek unit for bluetooth connectivity to the phone. We have “paired” the MiniTek with my wife’s cell but would like to find land line phones that will “pair” with the MiniTek, HELP!! We have a “Caption Call” phone but their interpretation of the inbound calls leaves a lot to be desired.