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Arts & Lifestyle

Could wireless earphones change the way people feel about hearing aids?

On 11, Jan 2017 | In Arts & Lifestyle | By Jerusha Shulberg

Apple’s latest change to remove the headphone jack and replace the traditional plug-in ear phones with wireless AirPods has sparked some conversation. The interesting thing for us is the potential to change the way of thinking in the hearing industry due to this technology shift. The hearing industry have been using this type of technology in their hearing aids for a long time! Could forward-thinking companies like Apple be making connected hearing devices the thing to wear?

 

Connected hearing aids

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Many of the hearing technology companies such as Oticon and Widex have been turning their wireless hearing aids into internet-connected devices for some time. Oticon make use of the IFTTT (if-this-then-that) service with the Opn,  connecting hearing aids to a wide range of technologies and entering the ‘Internet of Things’ world. This hearing instrument from Oticon (Opn) can connect to home heating systems, baby alarms, smoke detectors and of course, your smart phone.

Unfortunately, wearing hearing instruments still comes with some stigma for a variety of beliefs. Some people tend to just associate hearing aids with older age or a hearing disability, which we all know is not the complete picture. Hearing instruments are worn to help just about anyone with a hearing loss or condition and they are becoming an important part of daily life for many wearers.

 

How does this compare to wearing glasses?

This story could be very comparable to prescription glasses if we look back at their journey. We remember, not so long ago, when wearing glasses wasn’t ‘cool’ and those who cared enough were opting for contact lenses instead. But glasses have made a comeback as a fashion must-have and a way of showing personal style. Could hearing devices make the same journey?

We can’t predict the trends of the future, but combining Apple’s reputation as a trend-setter and the way technology is shifting towards being connected 24/7, we hope to see the use of hearing aids shifting reputation and becoming quite the fashion accessory!

 

The risks of listening through earphones all day

Whilst we generally see this being a positive change for the hearing care sector, we do also need to factor in the risks of over-exposure to noise above the safe level. This could become a bigger problem if the trend to wear connected ear phones becomes as permanent as Apple hope and people leave the air pods in their ears for longer durations. Apple does ensure a warning is displayed to users listening to their device above the safe exposure level, although it is unknown how many users follow this advice and stay within the safe levels. Users ignoring this warning and over-exposing their hearing to loud noise, particularly for prolonged periods throughout the day, could be causing irreversible damage to their hearing. We hope to see a greater emphasis on educating people about safe noise exposure levels and hope more users follow the limits provided on Apple devices whilst listening.

 

The future

Whatever you think about hearing aids or wireless ear phones, the industry IS shifting thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), the accessible IFTTT (if-this-then-that) service and forward-thinking technology companies like Apple. We hope this filters in to the way hearing devices are perceived and will encourage more people with conditions to get their hearing tested and diagnosed. This could be an interesting time for the audiology world!

 

 

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