Also known as connectivity, wireless is the industry’s most recent innovation. This technology allows RICs to interact with one another, and with other devices like cell phones, PC’s, tablets and TV’s – typically with the use of additional cost accessories.
Use of the telephone has always been a problem for those with moderate to severe hearing loss. Prior to the introduction of Bluetooth and other wireless standards, a rather primitive device called a telecoil was used to solve phone problems. Telecoils have never been a satisfactory solution. With wireless capabilities a RIC can “stream” cell phone conversations directly to both hearing aids with no noise or interference.
Wireless technology also defeats the “TV is too loud” hassle. By connecting to the audio-out connectors on your TV, wireless technology sends the audio signal directly to your hearing aids. This allows you to adjust your volume without turning it up for other listeners. Streaming also lets you listen to internet videos directly from mobile devices. You no longer have to struggle to hear music or internet videos while in a coffee shop or other location where you can’t crank up the volume on your device.
The ability for two hearing aids to pass information back and forth to one another in real time is called synchronization. Though no standardized tests can prove it, in theory there are some distinct benefits to be had from synchronization within complex listening environments such as meetings, riding in the car, and others.
Be aware that many of the smallest RICs on the market do not have wireless capability. Therefore, you must insist that any RIC you’re considering has wireless control capability, synchronization features, and Bluetooth streaming ability.
In time market success will determine which wireless features are most valued by consumers. Regardless, it makes no sense to spend thousands of dollars on hearing aids that don’t have wireless features like streaming and synchronization.