What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth technology is a wireless networking standard that operates at a short distance. It allows for a variety of electronic devices (mobile phones, computers, PDAs) to communicate and transfer data without being hardwired to each other. The Bluetooth standard was developed to provide an easier way for electronic devices to speak to each other using the same protocol or language.
Although initially it was difficult to find devices with Bluetooth technology, today it is commonly found in many mobile phones, cellular headsets, PDAs, laptops and desktop computers. This rapid development that the public has seen and experienced has shown that the market is readily accepting this new technology.
Bluetooth and Hearing Devices
Phonak introduced its Smartlink, which is the first Bluetooth enabled hearing device which has enables a bi-directional digital link between the user’s hearing devices and their Bluetooth cellular phones.
Eli DirX is the first Ear-Level Instrument with Bluetooth technology. It is a universal device that can be connected to any behind the ear instrument. Like the SmartLink, the Eli DirX provides a bidirectional digital link between the hearing devices and the Bluetooth cellular phone.
What is the best hearing device on the market?
Consultation with an audiologist is the best way to address this question as there isn’t a single device that can be considered the best. Much depends on an individual’s hearing loss. Each hearing device is geared towards a different severity of loss, from mild to profound. Together with the audiologist an individual is able to decide on a set of devices that is the best match for hearing loss, communication needs, manual dexterity, expectations, life style and finances.
How do hearing devices perform in background noise?
Thanks to the use of directional (dual) microphone technology, digital hearing instruments can either allow the patient to manually shut off the back microphone or, in high end instruments, the microphone shuts off automatically when background noise is interfering with speech. However, background noise is present in everyone’s lives, not just the hearing impaired. We all unconsciously filter out most background noise. Someone who has hearing loss automatically has a problem processing the difference between speech and noise since all sounds have become reduced or inaudible. When an individual has been fitted with hearing devices, s/he must actively retrain the brain to be able to better process speech in the presence of background noise.
How are directional microphones used?
The goal of directional microphones is to reduce the ambient (background) noise and increase the level of the desired speech. This can be done manually, automatically or both, depending on the instrument. Usually listeners are facing the person that they want to hear while the noise is located behind, in front and/or to the sides. Most hearing devices now come equipped with the technology that enable them to better determine the difference between speech and noise giving more amplification to the speech and less to the noise.
How much do hearing devices cost?
Hearing device prices vary depending on several different factors which include, the type of device, one device versus two, warranty offered, services included, accessories, level of technology (low, mid, high), telephone coils, and directional microphones as well as automatic functionality. Devices can generally cost anywhere from $2000 to $3500 each. Making an appointment to see an audiologist to have your hearing tested and to determine which device is the most appropriate is the best way to know the final cost.
Why do hearing devices cost so much?
Manufacturers of hearing devices are constantly researching and improving device technology – an expensive enterprise. Digital hearing devices are sold in relatively low volume as compared to other digital devices such as telephones and stereos. The skill, expertise and experience of the audiologist enter into the equation as well. Audiologists are prepared at the doctoral level for entry into practice assuring the best and latest information is brought to bear on individual hearing evaluations and device fittings.
Although there are less expensive alternatives such as discount centers and mail away programs, the person in charge of fitting in those situations may not have the level of training to assure an optimal outcome.
Are hearing devices covered by Medicare?
Medicare pays for hearing tests with a referral from a physician but does not cover the cost of hearing devices. Some insurance providers cover a portion of the purchase price and some insurance policies may offer a discount off the device purchase price.
How long will hearing device batteries last?
On average, 3 to 14 days, depending on the size of the battery and how many hours a day the devices are worn. There are also rechargeable devices that last all day and require only a 5 hour nightly charge.
How often must hearing devices be replaced?
Hearing devices may last anywhere from 3-5 years but can last as long as 7 years. New devices have enough power available to “grow” with a person’s hearing loss. In this example, when there is a change in hearing status, the devices can simply be reprogrammed for performance appropriate to current hearing requirements.