Bluetooth: new global standard for hearing aids


© Bluetooth SIG

In a press release on March 2014, the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA) announced that it has teamed up with the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), the organization that issues authorizations to manufacturers that wish to use the technology.

Through this partnership, EHIMA, which represents the six major hearing instrument manufacturers, intends to develop a new Bluetooth standard for hearing devices. The aim is to improve existing functionalities but also to create new ones such as stereo audio streaming from mobile devices or from multimedia using Bluetooth wireless technology.

“It is important that we connect to and serve all kinds of smartphones and multimedia sound signals,” explains Soren Hougaard, EHIMA secretary general. “In order to achieve that, we must define a standard everyone can implement.” This new standard could be adopted within less than two years.

At the moment, hearing aids that are not fitted with Bluetooth technology cannot be coupled with certain multimedia devices, preventing users from making the most of what they have to offer (smartphones, televisions, tablets, MP3 players, etc.). Currently, there is no standard in place for Bluetooth in the area of hearing aids.

Today, it is magnetic loop technology dating from the 1950s that is routinely used. It has a number of advantages compared with Bluetooth. For instance, it is suitable for public spaces like cinemas and conference rooms, while Bluetooth is intended more specifically for personal use. However, the availability of magnetic loops in public spaces varies considerably from one country to another.

Source: EHIMA