News / Science & Technology

Hearing-aid Apps Pump Up Volume, Double as Headphones

FILE - An employee of GN, the world's fourth largest maker of hearing aids, demonstrates the use of ReSound LiNX in Vienna, Nov. 22, 2013.
FILE - An employee of GN, the world's fourth largest maker of hearing aids, demonstrates the use of ReSound LiNX in Vienna, Nov. 22, 2013.
Reuters
New smartphone apps that link to hearing aids are helping people with impaired hearing to pump up the volume on their devices or to use them as headphones to stream phone calls, YouTube videos and music.
 
About 36 million American adults have some hearing loss, according to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. But only a fifth of people who could benefit from a hearing aid wear one.
 
“People will always need really good hearing aids, but moving forward, what will differentiate competitors will be connectivity [to smartphones], and it will need apps,” Lars Viksmoen, chief executive of GN ReSound, a maker of hearing aids based in Denmark, said in a telephone interview.
 
The company's new, free app, ReSound Smart for the iPhone, turns hearing aids into headphones and allows users to remotely configure settings on their aids - such as volume, treble and bass. It also remembers particular settings for different venues.
 
“Let's say you're in a place you go to all the time, such as a coffee shop. You can make an adjustment and then it will geotag your location, so the next time you walk in, it will remember your settings,” said Laurel Christensen, the company's chief audiology officer.
 
In noisy locations, a selection on the app can convert the iPhone into a microphone, streaming conversation into the hearing aids for better clarity. It also helps people find their aids, if they misplace them.
 
“As you walk around your house, the signal bars get stronger as you get closer to them, and it's like a game of hot and cold,” Christensen said.
 
The company produces hearing aids, called ReSound LiNX, that cost around $6000 for a pair and can be used with or without an iPhone.
 
“I think we're going to see an explosion in this area because of baby boomers. They're into technology and they want to be connected,” she said.
 
Other apps connect hearing aids to smartphones through an intermediary device, including miniTek Remote App for Android which links to Siemens' line of hearing aids via a streamer.
 
Steve Aiken, associate professor of audiology at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, said the apps were beneficial as they link hearing aids to other technology already integrated into people's lives.
 
Still, there are some risks, he said.
 
“One is that people could damage their hearing further if they adjust the settings incorrectly. And the other is that they miss out on the benefits if they're not configured properly because it takes people's brains a while to acclimatize to sounds they haven't heard in a long time,” he said.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More