Starkey Hearing Technologies next week will be the second manufacturer to jump into the brand-new Made for iPhone Hearing Aids market with a slick product loaded with features controlled by an application available from Apple’s online App Store.
The new Starkey Halo hearing aids will receive wireless audio directly from Apple’s latest iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices, without requiring an intermediary streaming device. And the TruLink Control App, available as a free download, will provide wireless control over a laundry list of functions designed to dramatically improve the performance of the hearing aids in different listening environments.
Closely following GN ReSound’s late February launch of its ReSound LiNX and Beltone First iPhone Hearing aids, the new Starkey Halo product is a strong entrant into what promises to be a hotly competitive market for iPhone-compatible hearing aids. Other manufacturers among the “Big Six” who together account for more than 80 percent global hearing aid sales have been rumored to be developing their own Made-for-iPhone products, but only GN ReSound and Starkey have gone to market so far.
The TruLink app transforms the Starkey Halo hearing aids into multi-function wireless mobile phone accessories that perform a variety of applications. Users can:
- Stream calls from the iPhone directly to their hearing aids
- Use the iPhone remotely to control their hearing aids
- Stream audio directly from FaceTime video chats
- Stream audio directly from iTunes music and podcasts
- Wirelessly adjust bass, treble and volume settings on their hearing aids
- “Geo-tag” the custom sound settings for locations such as noisy restaurants and have the iPhone automatically adjust the settings when they arrive
- Use the iPhone as a desktop microphone that amplifies conversations and transmits them directly to their hearing aids
- Find their hearing aids when they are misplaced using the geo-location software in the iPhone
Like the GN ReSound Made for iPhone products, the Starkey Halo hearing aids utilize the low-power Bluetooth Smart technology built into Apple’s iPhone 5 and other iOS7.1 devices.
Other hearing aids enable streaming of Bluetooth audio, but they all require an intermediary device to retransmit the wireless signals from the phone to the hearing aids. Eliminating the streamer is a major advance that should accelerate customer adoption of wireless hearing aids.
As pure hearing aids, the Halo products are high-end offerings integrating Starkey’s sophisticated sound processing software and high-end features including feedback cancellation, adaptive noise management and directional microphones, all of which provide better comprehension of speech in noisy environments.
Retail pricing hasn’t been announced but can be expected to range upwards of $3,000 per hearing aid, competitive with the GN ReSound iPhone products and with the premium wireless offerings from other manufacturers.