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Digital & Innovation

Cochlear, GN Hearing and Android bring direct streaming to people with hearing loss

Health Industry Hub | September 12, 2019 |

Collaboration with Google on hearing aid specification now officially brings direct streaming of music, phone calls and other sound to people with hearing loss. For the first time, people can stream sound from their compatible Android devices to their hearing devices using Bluetooth Low Energy.

GN Hearing, the global leader in hearing aid connectivity, and Cochlear, the global leader in implantable hearing solutions, together with Google, announce world-first support for direct streaming from Android devices to hearing devices using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).

The new technology is based on a recent hearing aid specification, Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA) on Bluetooth Low Energy Connection-Oriented Channels, which Google has developed in collaboration with GN Hearing and Cochlear. This new direct streaming technology from compatible Android devices allows people to use their hearing devices like a headset to enjoy music, take calls and much more, while using a protocol designed to maximise battery life. With BLE, people can use technology designed for streaming all day while preserving the battery life of their hearing devices, which is a challenge for the traditional Classic Bluetooth streaming currently available.

Around 466 million people worldwide live with disabling hearing loss, and the number is increasing by millions every year, according to the World Health Organisation. With the official release of Android 10, Google Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, and Pixel 3a XL will be the first Android phones to support direct streaming to ReSound LiNX Quattro and Beltone Amaze hearing aids and the Cochlear Nucleus 7 Sound Processor. The new streaming technology will be available by way of an update to Android 10, plus a firmware update on the hearing devices. The streaming specification is open source, which allows other manufacturers of hearing aids and Android devices to offer direct audio streaming in the near future.

“The streaming capability with the latest hearing devices from Cochlear or GN Hearing expands accessibility to more consumer technology. The benefit to our users is they will no longer have to use an intermediate device to stream audio from a compatible Android device to their cochlear implant sound processor or hearing aid,” says Jan Janssen, Chief Technology Officer, Cochlear.

“We’ve partnered up with some of the leading technology companies in the world to deliver innovation with the user at heart. Now people with hearing loss can enjoy effortless streaming all day long and easily connect with people,” says Jakob Gudbrand, CEO and President of GN Hearing.

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