I’ve written about my hearing aids before, and I’m sure it’ll happen again. But while this post incorporates some talk of my Halo Made for iPhone hearing aids (which let me tell you, are AWESOME!), the point is that Made for iPhone hearing technologies are eliminating hearing aid and hearing loss stigma. (Hallelujah for us!)
Technology: Making disability great again
CNET’s article “Apple iPhone tech helps reinvent the hearing aid” launched yesterday, and I can’t get over how impactful the Apple+ hearing aid manufacturer partnerships have been. Apple launched iOS 7 in 2013, and with it the hearing aid program was birthed. Starkey Hearing Technologies and ReSound were quick to take advantage of this new tool for patients, launching the first Made for iPhone hearing aids within a year.
The Made for iPhone-compatible hearing aids cut out the need for intermediary devices called streamers that connect hearing aids to phones. And it makes the use of hearing aids less obvious, helping remove the social stigma associated with them.
“When people think about hearing technology, they don’t think about small and stylish and wireless and superhigh quality audio,” said Chris McCormick, Starkey’s marketing chief. “When they hear about this tech, they say, ‘I wish I’d done this five years ago.'”
[Excerpt from CNET article]
The article goes on to describe how the technological advances by Apple, Starkey Hearing Technologies and other hearing aid manufacturers have made the world accessible for those with hearing loss again. Perhaps accessible isn’t the right word. How about “inviting,” “fun,” or “enjoyable” instead.
In short, Made for iPhone hearing aids defy past conceptions of hearing aids and reinvent the way we approach hearable technology for those with hearing loss. Some of these “transformative features” include the below Halo 2 features:
- Remote control of volume and hearing aid programs (no more adjusting by physically touching your ears)
- 20 geotagged, personalized, custom memories (because sound is better when it’s made just for you)
- Manipulating volume, bass and treble (overall sound quality) within a mobile app (Yep, you can control this)
- Wireless streaming of calls, music, media, FaceTime, Siri, etc. (Goodbye wired headphones that often are painfully yanked from your ears when you get up or move the wrong way)
- Musical listening enhancement (Music sounds like music again, and everybody loves music)
Destroying the stigma once and for all
While I could go on about how amazing the technologies are behind these devices (Read about that here. You know you want to.), I won’t, because that isn’t the point. The point is this: Made for iPhone hearing aid technologies are making hearing aids COOL. Not acceptable. Not ok. Cool!
People without hearing loss are reading about what the new hearing aids can do and they want them, even though they may not need them. I’ve had at least 10 people now at the gym ask me where I got my wireless headphones, and after I explain what they are and what they can do, they want them even more. I don’t see Beats letting me create custom, geotagged sound memories or manipulate bass, treble and volume from a mobile app. Plus, my Halo’s are basically sweat proof.
Mother Nature Network‘s Lloyd Alter recently wrote his own opinion of how Halo 2 hearing aids are destroying stereotypes, and I honestly couldn’t agree more. Heck, I even do the same thing with my hearing aids (except to mute certain people not animals).
“Right now, only a small fraction of the people who need hearing aids get them; they are expensive and there has always been a stigma to them. People think they make them look old. But once people start realizing that they do so much more than just help you hear, I suspect that stigma will disappear. People will think they look wired and connected. (Some people, like Vincent Nguyen at Slashgear, are wearing them even though they have normal hearing, simply because they love the features.)
Now, even when I’m alone in my home office and don’t need to wear them for hearing, I’m putting the Halo 2s on because they have become my default link to the audible internet. They’re not a stigma to me; they’re a super power. As hearing aids, these devices have changed my life by letting me hear the immediate world around me; as hearables, they are wiring me directly into a much larger world.
And when the dog is barking at a squirrel, I can just turn him off. Try that with your regular ears.”
This is the power of technology.
This is the power of change.