With our leap into the digital age, we’ve all adapted to having our phones and devices on us at all times. They’re integrated into most parts of our lives, augmenting our time management, communication, and consumption of media.
But how can phones help us with our health? Or more specifically, our hearing? What apps are available on Android phones that can help someone experiencing hearing loss? Well let’s have a look!
My Lively is a bit of an odd name, but it certainly sticks in the mind. Lively being the name of the hearing aid brand itself, the app’s name drives home the point that the hearing aid is yours, personalised to you.
The app works closely alongside the hearing aid – allowing you to stream music and calls from your phone, control the volume of your hearing aids, or even mute them entirely. You can also adjust frequencies, and even locate your lost hearing aids!
Another cool trick is that you can take these adjusted settings and save them as a program which can then be pulled out later at any time. For example, if you figure out the perfect balance needed for a movie theatre, you can save it, and then apply it any time you feel like crying or laughing in a dark room full of strangers.
But even better than that is the ability to tag these programs to a specific location. For example, if you frequent a particular theatre, any time you go there, your phone will pick up on the location and change your hearing aid’s settings automatically.
However, the most interesting part of the My Lively app comes in the form of their Lively Assist. Through this nifty function, you can request and receive new settings and updates from a Lively audiologist. Overall, a great app!
Eargo is somewhat of a fresh face in the world of hearing aids. However, they’re often lauded for their forward-thinking and technologically-progressive image.
Firstly, and possibly somewhat subjectively, the app is extremely aesthetically pleasing. Very minimalistic design, with the Eargo orange popping off of a white background. But it doesn’t stop there! The app, as one would hope, is extremely functional.
The user is able to select a preloaded program for their hearing aids and change it on the fly. For example, if you were to find yourself in a busy restaurant, discussing a promotion with your boss, you could change your hearing aids’ mode, allowing you to isolate voices and block out chatter and atmospheric noise.
Then, if you needed to step out for a phone call, you could switch it over to phone mode at the press of a button, just in time to hear your partner that they’ve won the lottery, freeing you up to head back into the restaurant and tell your boss that you’re no longer interested in the promotion, or your job for that matter.
This is all hypothetical of course.
If you want even further customization than that, you can even tweak the sound levels of different frequencies. If you suffer from high-frequency hearing loss, you can bump up the treble to compensate. You can even isolate your changes to a single ear!
And if all else fails and you somehow do something you can’t reverse or understand, they have an active 24/7 support line to help you with any issues you might have with either the app or the hearing aids themselves.
Moving on from the new kids on the block, we have Phonak, one of the older hearing aid manufacturers. But don’t let their age fool you, they can still be hip and happening with the rest of the young kids, with an app to boot!
However, it’s not quite as spiffy as the apps we’ve already listed. It does the basic hearing aid app functions, but not much more than that.
You can adjust volume for both ears, control the directional microphone, steam music and calls, and create programs, just like Eargo and Lively.
However, the app offers no support line to a hearing healthcare professional, meaning that if something goes wrong, you’ll have to physically take it in to an audiologist to get it fixed.
However, there is a perk to this app that a lot of the following apps don’t have. A big complaint with hearing aid apps is their usage of an “intermediary.” This means that they require a middle man to relay audio from phone to hearing aid. The Phonak Remote does not do this, meaning you won’t have to lug around a third piece of equipment to listen to your phone.
ReSound Smart 3D App
ReSound’s Smart 3D app is a pretty solid hearing aid companion. It offers a menagerie of services, some we’ve discussed already and some that seem to be a first in this article!
They boast the same location-based programs as the Lively app, which means your hearing aids can adapt to your phone’s location. And, as you could expect from a hearing aid that adapts via location data, you’ll be able to track your hearing aids if they were lost somewhere.
ReSound also includes the ability to have your hearing aid adjusted remotely by a professional. But we’ve talked about these already, what are the new things you can get through ReSound’s app?
Well, they give you the ability to check in on your battery life through the app. Other hearing aids typically inform their user of their battery life at milestones throughout the day. For example, if the battery has 25% of its life remaining, it might say “25% battery life remaining.” This can be a bit intrusive, and may interrupt you listening to something else.
Now, you simply have to whip out the app and check the battery level on the screen – meaning you don’t have to miss what someone’s saying, or get a startle from an alert when you’re quietly reading a book.
Finally, ReSound is the first app to boast quite an important feature – tinnitus relief. Tinnitus is the antithesis of a good time – a constant ringing in your ear, drowning out things you might actually want to listen to.
ReSound’s tinnitus relief allows the user to adjust a level of white noise or nature sounds that counteract their tinnitus, allowing for a more relaxing and clear mental state.
Starkey is the only member of the Big Six, the six largest hearing aid manufacturers, to be based in America. This already makes them pretty unique, but what does their app have to brag about?
They offer location-based sound profiles, Bluetooth calls, high quality sound streaming, and general volume/frequency control. Starkey also includes “Multiflex Tinnitus Technology,” a similar program to the tinnitus relief we mentioned earlier.
As far as new things go, TruLink offers a nifty function known as “real-time notifications.” When your phone receives a notification, it will be read straight into your hearing aids, meaning you don’t even have to take out your phone to read an email or text!
One of the coolest features they offer is the ability to record, playback, and even email incoming sound! Perfect if you want to record a speech for posterity, a song to look up later, or if you’re a spy picking up a conversation and sending it back to HQ.
Starkey’s app also allows the hearing aids to adapt to when the user is riding in a car. Now, we couldn’t find out what this actually entails, but they boast about it enough that it’s gotta be something good!
In an outrageous display of confidence, Signia hasn’t even named their app anything beyond their own name! Let’s see if they have the content to back it up.
They have the staples – the volume control, the audio streaming, and a support line, but they do have some unique tricks to their name!
For example, they have a directional hearing module. This means that you can configure your hearing aids to favour sound coming from one direction over another. This is handy if you’re at a wedding or assembly and need to focus on a speaker in a specific direction.
They also go above and beyond with their customer support lines. They don’t just offer a chat option – you can actually book a video appointment with a Signia professional, and they can talk you through precise remote adjustments.
Oticon, another member of the Big Six, has the ON app. At this point, the list of features is somewhat redundant – you can link your phone’s audio and control the volume, but it starts to get interesting when you look past that.
The Oticon ON app is probably the most technologically integrated app we’ve seen. It can connect to all sorts of smart devices – washing machines, doorbells, alarms – and receive notifications directly to your hearing aids.
This is a great choice for someone who wants to be one with their home. If you consider yourself to be a tech-savvy, forward-thinking, 21st century cyborg, the Oticon ON is the one for you.
They also allow you to set hearing goals, allowing you to set a goal of how many hours you want to use your hearing aids. You can then compare these goals over the weeks and months and see how committed you are to your hearing health!
Finally, we have Widex, the last member of the Big Six. They brand their app as “a truly smart hearing aid app that gives you control.” Let’s see what that means.
This app contains an artificial intelligence that learns the longer you use the hearing aid. By asking quick questions throughout the course of your usage, and also using other users’ data, it will slowly learn the best way to accommodate your specific case of hearing loss.
This is unique to Widex – it places you in a network of other Widex users and helps you all improve together. If you were to get one now, the program would already be pretty advanced!
They also offer location-based programs, volume and frequency control for each hearing aid, and directional hearing. Other than professional support lines, Widex has it all!
And finally, here are some quick apps to help your hearing that don’t need to be paired with a hearing aid!
Rogervoice: Rather than sending things to your ears, Rogervoice relies more on your sense of sight. It transcribes incoming phone calls, letting you read what the person on the other side is saying, rather than having to listen to them.
Smart Hearing Aid: If you’ve lost or broken your hearing aids, and need to hear in a pinch, this is the app for you! Put in a pair of headphones and manually adjust the frequency and volume of incoming sound, and you’ll have a makeshift hearing aid on your hand!
Sound Meter: Worried about preventative measures? Pull out the Sound Meter app to see how much sound you’re being exposed to!
Hearing aid apps are all pretty varied, while also offering a great baseline of functionality. One thing’s for certain – the recent advancements of smart phones and wireless technology has improved the potential for hearing aids exponentially.
If you’re eager to give a hearing aid a test drive, you should book a free appointment with a hearing specialist! If it turns out that you’re in need of a hearing aid, you might be able to get a trial run and see how these apps work out for you!
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