GN ReSound’s new LiNX hearing aid isn’t just the world’s first “Made for iPhone Hearing Aid.” It’s also a high-tech system that pushes the performance envelope by fitting more processing power and communication power into its smallest receiver-in-the-ear hearing aid.
LiNX is the latest shoe to drop in a steady progression of technology-driven product introductions from the Denmark company that started in 2010 with the ReSound Alera platform. Alera debuted the sophisticated ReSound Surround Sound digital signal processing software while setting new standards for wireless connectivity to voice and audio sources.
In 2012 ReSound progressed to more power and functionality with the ReSound Verso family, which introduced direct ear-to-ear communication between its hearing aids, enabling automated balancing of directional sound as listening environments changed.
Linx takes two more significant steps forward. In addition to enabling iPhone signals to stream directly into the hearing aids, the new LiNX SmartRange chipset enables “smart control” of the hearing aid using the iPhone.The ReSound Smart App, available as a download from the Apple store, lets you control your hearing aids with your iPhone. Among other things, you can use it to adjust the volume, tune treble and bass settings, and switch your hearing aids’ environmental program settings.
Other nifty technology-driven features in the new hearing aids include a selection of in-the-ear receivers (speakers) with a range of power outputs, providing audiologists with a wider range of fitting possibilities. ReSound says the new hearing aids are flexible and powerful enough to fit 90 percent of patients’ hearing-loss profiles.
Another issue ReSound and the other hearing aid manufacturers must manage is power consumption. Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz wireless communication are famous hogs of battery power. Hearing aid users get disgruntled if their batteries start lasting less than a week, and a lot of Bluetooth use can drain a battery in days if not hours.
ReSound has addressed this issue with the SmartRange chipset, which is twice as fast and delivers twice the performance of its predecessor, but with no additional battery consumption. (This and other features of the SmartRange chip back up ReSound’s boast that it has ushered in “the third generation of 2.4 GHz wireless technology.”) Another way ReSound dealt with the power issue was to make room in its compact design for a 312-sized battery, providing far longer-lasting power than if it had given into the temptation to make do with a smaller size 10 battery.
ReSound is speaking for the rest of the hearing aid industry when it says its design and development goals are to deliver hearing aids “with benefits exceeding those of normal hearing.” With the communication capabilities, especially audio integration with user-friendly iPhone apps, and recreational uses such as wireless streaming of iPod tunes, ReSound is backing up its claim that its hearing aids now should really be viewed as “stereo headphones that just happen to be hearing aids.”