Will Android Audio Streaming for Hearing Aid (ASHA) support hands-free calling?


More info: Hearing Aid Audio Support Using Bluetooth LE  |  Android Open Source Project


What I want to know is, Will a standard wireless streaming protocol for hearing aids (ASHA maybe?) be used for all (or most hearing aids) in the future? Certainly a standard could not be MFi because it’s proprietary thus no one else except Apple may use it.

Or maybe each hearing aid manufacturer will continue to use whatever wireless streaming protocol is necessary, or even multiple wireless streaming protocols for different devices, (Apple/Android) :thinking:


Phonak Audéo Marvel uses classic Bluetooth.


Oh, so it’s already solved with Classic Bluetooth?

  • Marvel - Classic Bluetooth - Android Phone
  • Marvel - Classic Bluetooth - iPhone

Then why the heck do we need the Audio Streaming for Hearing Aid (ASHA) protocol? And what happened to MFi? Is MFi gone?


MFi is still a thing. I’d like to better understand the advantages and disadvantages of MFi and ASHA relative to BT classic.


It is difficult to discuss. I think we are likely missing technical details about the wireless streaming protocol(s) that manufacturers use for hearing aids, and the manufacturer is not likely to educate us beyond their shiny brochures.

I do like the description of the ASHA protocol with elastic buffers! But I doubt that Apple will ever adopt it as a standard?? After all, it’s an android standard.


Well, there’s the Hearing Aid Working Group with the Bluetooth Special Interest Group which is supposedly working on an official low energy hearing aid standard and then there’s a general audio working group which is supposedly working on a low energy audio standard. I managed to contact Nick Hunn, the chair of the hearing aid group. He replied but didn’t give any actual information.

I suspect machinations, power plays, conflicting interests… Maybe asha will hurry them up.

Edit: There’s this from 2014: https://www.bluetooth.com/news/pressreleases/2014/03/12/bluetooth-sig-and-ehima-partner-to-advance-hearing-instrument-technology-to-improve-the-lives-of-the-hearing-impaired


Perhaps a standard protocol is developing? For Sonova/Phonak/Unitron it appears to be CEVA. See;

Maybe William DeMant/Oticon/Bernafon also uses the CEVA IP Platforms solution.


Oticon has been using CEVA technology in the OPN line (I looked it up) since 2016 and no sign of direct Bluetooth audio in that time. This is all way above my pay grade, so I’ll exit stage left. Except… if you have to license someone’s technology it’s not an open standard. An open standard means absolutely everyone can play. At least asha seems to be that.

Edit: Saw this: https://www.ceva-dsp.com/press/sonova-license-and-deploy-ceva-bluetooth-ip-in-sword-3-0-wireless-chip-for-hearing-aids/ which is supposed to free us from Apple’s hegemony. It’s still going to need an open standard for the audio though otherwise we’re just swapping Apple’s jackboot for some else’s. asha?


Yeah, maybe beyond my pay grade too. It looks like CEVA/RivieraWaves has all kinds of audio codecs to make audio sound great, along with Bluetooth 5 – (both low energy/BLE and dual mode/BTDM versions) embedded into SoC/System-on-Chip and ASSP/Application-specific standard parts.

So it looks like the backbone of audio streaming and connectivity is already built into the hearing aid chips before they ship.

Though, it is still unclear (to me) how MFi or ASHA wireless streaming protocols may fit in with this??


I think the dream is that your hearing aids are going to be able to connect with Bluetooth LE to your phone, your tv, your computer. Everything, regardless of manufacturer. That can only happen if you have an open standard in the same way that a2dp is the standard audio profile for bluetooth classic.

I’m guessing the partnership between CEVA and Sonova is what has produced the Phonak Marvel. It’s still using Bluetooth Classic and a2dp though, so it’s still about implementing standards, not creating new ones. I’m sure they’re busy adding asha to their protocol stack as we speak.


MFi doesn’t support hands-free calling just using the ha’s. It requires the user to use the iPhone for mic input. I can’t speak to the other.


So, Phonak Marvel does not use MFi at all during a hands-free call to an iPhone? If so they sure did a lot of work just to discard it so quickly.


The Phonak Audéo M does not use MFi and I’m so glad. I used MFi devices for over 4 years. There are some advantages but those do not outweigh the advantages of this new HA platform.


This is what I don’t get?? This excerpt from an article published the fall of 2018 says;

Previously, hearing aid wearers using the MFi (and future ASHA) protocol needed to hold the smartphone up to their mouths and talk into the phone’s microphone to converse.

That seems to agree with your position that MFi is an old obsolete/protocol that has been discarded. But in the same sentence the article mentions (and future ASHA) protocol.

So wait a minute. How can we label (ASHA) as a future protocol, and in the very same sentence imply that it also has also been discarded?


It would be a boring world if we were all the same. The same is true for everything else in life. And as we all know once our governments start forcing standards on everything the cost goes up to the point no one can afford anything.


Maybe it is useful to notice that MFi stands for “Made for iPhone”.

ASHA is the android version of the MFi protocol.

MFi (for hearing aids) is available since 2013
ASHA will be in a future Android version

Both use Bluetooth low energy.

This is almost necessary because of the very small battery’s used in the hearing aids.