Hearing aid apps

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Contributed by Madeleine Burry
Last update 2022-10-14T00:00:00-05:00

Nowadays, doorbells, washing machines, refrigerators and audio systems have smartphone apps. It is therefore not surprising that many hearing aids are also associated with applications.

Most hearing aids come with a smartphone
apps to give users more control over their
devices.

“Apps are how we live our lives now,” says Shannon Basham, AuD, senior director of audiology and education at Sonova, which makes hearing aid solutions, including a hearing aid app. .

Apps can make something strange and new — wearing hearing aids — feel familiar, she says. They offer a wide range of useful features, and perhaps most importantly, hearing aid apps help people who wear the devices to personalize their experience, which can be deeply empowering, Basham says.

“Each person who needs a hearing aid, their hearing loss and communication needs are so individualized,” says Basham. Apps allow people to personalize their listening experience, instead of trying to fit a cookie-cutter situation, she says.

What is a hearing aid app?

There are a number of hearing-related apps available for smartphones, such as decibel meter apps that tell you the sound level around you. Other apps can perform a basic screening test to measure your hearing, and some let you “train” your brain with hearing exercises.

But for people who wear hearing aids or are considering getting hearing aids, the most relevant category is apps made by hearing aid manufacturers. An example is the Oticon On app.

Using Bluetooth, these apps connect to the hearing aids a person wears and are available on Apple and Android phones.

What features are available through the apps?

Different apps offer different functionality, of course. But some of the features you can expect to see on many hearing aid apps include the following:

You can adjust the hearing aid

“Hearing aids are remarkable in that they can read sound scenes and automatically adjust to noise levels in the room,” says Basham. But if you want the ability to tweak the volume, treble, bass, etc. even further, the apps let you do that via your smartphone, which can be incredibly discreet, rather than reaching to your ear to manually press on the buttons. Doing this, says Basham, is like adjusting your stereo settings.

Interface for the Oticon ON App
The Oticon ON app home screen
which can be used with Oticon hearing aids.

You can create and save personalized hearing programs

For example, if you often find hearing in a particular cafe particularly difficult, you can adjust the levels to suit your hearing and then save it so you can use it again the next time you’re in that environment. Some hearing aids may come with built-in programs from your hearing care professional, as well as programs designed to mask tinnitus. One of the most popular settings is a music program, but you can also ask your hearing care professional for many custom settings for your hearing aids.

You can check the status of the device

Apps often allow you to check the battery life of your hearing aids. That way, you’ll know when they need to be recharged or replaced. Apps often provide statistics, allowing you to see, for example, how many hours you wore the hearing aids per day/week/month.

Find your lost hearing aids

Many apps also offer a “find my hearing aid” type feature to locate the device.

Your hearing aids can connect directly to audio

With apps, you can connect directly to audio sources, so you can stream music and TV, as well as phone calls, straight to your hearing aids.

You can connect to the Internet of Things

So many daily tasks travel together. For example, in the morning, people turn on their hearing aids, make coffee, take a shower. At night, they turn off the hearing aids, turn off the lights, set the alarm. You can use IFTTT (“if this, then that”) smart technology and services to trigger certain events when you turn your hearing aids on and off.

Related: Hearing aids are now equipped with artificial intelligence. What does that mean?

You can check the instructions and manual

If you’re new to your hearing aids, apps can help you learn basic functionality, which is handy if you need to research how to change batteries when you’re away from home.

You can keep a hearing diary

During check-ups, your hearing care professional will ask you to share the times when your hearing aid did not help you to your satisfaction. But remembering and describing those moments can be tricky. Some apps offer the ability to keep notes, so you can identify situations where you couldn’t hear. “These apps allow us to get a snapshot of the user experience over time,” Basham says. This information, in turn, can be conveyed to the audiologist, so that instead of verbally describing the sounds of the restaurant, the audiologist can better understand the soundscape.

You can contact your audiologist or your audioprosthetist

Through the app, your hearing care professional can perform a hearing test, fit hearing aids, fit the hearing aid, and more, says Basham. “It’s really phenomenal during this time when people can’t physically be there for appointments,” she says.

And there is so much more that will come in future app updates. Just as hearing aids have advanced in functionality, so too will apps. “When it comes to hearing aid technology, we’re only scratching the surface of what’s possible,” says Basham.

Other Hearing Loss Apps You Might Enjoy

We’ve rounded up apps in several hearing categories to help you get the most out of your smartphone or tablet.

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