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How Does a Smartphone Work with My Hearing Aids?

Many of today's hearing aids can connect to your smartphone to enhance your overall hearing experience. Learn about some of the ways hearing aids and smartphones work together.



Hi, I'm Jim Cuddy. And this is Ask The Hearing Doctors and I'm joined today by Dr. Jenna Valania, doctor of audiology with Hearing Doctors. The Washington DC area's highest-rated audiology practice with over 1,500, five-star reviews. Jenna, great to see you. Thank you so much for having me. Oh, of course. 


All right. Now Jenna we've talked on this program before about how smartphones interact with with hearing aids. But I don't know that we've really touched on all of the advantages because there are so many advantages. Streaming your phone calls, there are a lot of key advantages here.


Absolutely. So, the number one I would say complaint, about people and with taking phone calls if they have hearing loss, is that they have to talk on a speakerphone. So, they have to hold it up because they feel that they can get more volume that way. When you turn up the volume on your cell phone and you're on speaker phone it's possible that other people could hear it, too. With hearing aids that phone call is streamed direct to the hearing aid, so you don't have to worry about that call being on speakerphone. Privacy is a huge issue. Absolutely. Yeah Yeah


Um. What other advantages when you're talking about just phone calls when it comes to streaming right into your hearing aids? 


Sure. So, I do want to start off by saying that in order to have a hearing aid you do not have to have a smartphone. That is also one of our questions, is people are worried sometimes about the technology of - oh my gosh I can't have my smartphone, or I I don't have a smartphone, will I be able to use a hearing aid? Absolutely the phone is an amazing accessory to the hearing aid but is not a necessity for the hearing aid. 


But my favorite topic is having a smartphone and a hearing aid because there are so many wonderful features. All hearing aid companies have an app that is compatible with their hearing aids. A lot of hearing aids now are both Apple and Android/ Samsung compatible. So, before we move forward with your hearing aid purchase, we do verify that your phone is compatible for streaming or compatible to be used as a remote control. You can use your cell phone to check the battery life. You can use your cell phone to change the volume. So, let's say you and I are having a conversation, we're at a dinner meeting, it's a little hard to hear you. I can subtly raise that volume or even switch a program from my phone direct to that hearing aid. So, I don't have to be fiddling with the buttons or get nervous that I'm not sure where I am. It's a visual tool. It's one of the my favorite tools in our toolbox Is having that visual reinforcement. That you can change that volume, you can change that program, and you can check your battery life. 


And you're talking when you talk about changing programs, you're talking about also depending upon the environment you're in right?


Absolutely, absolutely. And the hearing aid you'll be able to say okay, I want to listen to music, and you can switch into your music program and then stream that music. Podcast, we have a lot of people around here that love to listen to podcasts, myself being one of them. That I, you would be able to stream that podcast direct. It's as if a lot of people are worried about, I don't want to take my hearing aids out to put different headphones in. It’s a worry of the past. 


If I'm outside versus inside, if I'm in a noisy environment versus a quiet environment. More things that I can do on my smartphone to change and and make my hearing that much better? 


Absolutely. A lot of programs on the hearing aid right now, what we can do in office is also sometimes in an ideal listening environment. Thankfully our office is an ideal listening environment. We work with people with hearing loss it should be. We know our office is not the real world in some instances. So, what's great about having that smartphone capability is you can do even further reduction of background noise. For the reduction of wind noise, say you're taking a walk on a beach or you're on a golf course and that wind is hitting up against the microphone. You can go in and reduce that. Now some people say well I'm worried that I'm going to be too far from where you have it professionally set. That's also not a worry that our patients should worry about because you can never stray too far from where we have it set. And any time you either put your hearing aids in the charger or open up that battery door to turn the hearing aid off, it's automatically set back to how we have it professionally set in our office.


Talk also, the way that you can use your smartphone as a remote microphone.


Truly my favorite feature! I know I've said that a lot about each of these features but that's really one of my favorite features. And I make sure I go over that with everyone. Because whether you are the person that's going to be using that as the remote microphone or if you are a younger family member. So, a lot of people come in and they're like I have a hard time hearing my grandkids, they mumble. it's possible your grandchildren are also mumbling but the biggest thing is you probably aren't hearing them well. So, I always say, oh Miss Mary, if you are reading with your granddaughter, you can use your smartphone to stream her voice direct to the hearing aid. How it works is it utilizes your phone, your own phone and you would put it on the table. So, you and I are having a conversation. Your voice is picked up by the phone microphone and streams direct to the hearing aid. It's a more streamlined signal that comes through and if there's background noise that's reduced. Now that is a feature that is unique to iPhone. And then also unique to certain hearing aids in an app so be sure to check with your audiologist to make sure that feature is included if it's something that's important for you.


All right. Now here's a scenario for you. I I'm at the shopping center, I get into my car. I realize later on, while getting into my car or maybe it was in the store, I don't have my hearing aids anymore. I can't find them anywhere. But I can use my smartphone to find them?


Yes. It is incredible. So, a feature that's very similar to find my phone it's called find my hearing aid. We would make sure that the service is turned on while you are in the office and demonstrate how to use it. It uses a GPS based system, so the hearing aids themselves do need to be on. So, if it's a battery-operated hearing aid you'll have that time while the battery is alive. If it's a rechargeable hearing aid, you'll have about a day. Now the best way to describe this is yes you get out of a parking lot, you're in the store, you drive all the way home, oh my goodness I don't have my hearing aid! You're able to pull up the app and see geographically where that hearing aid is. That way you can go back to the parking lot, retrace your steps and know that okay there's that peace of mind. Because while there is a loss and damage warranty with each hearing aid it's only one time per hearing aid. This adds a lot of comfort for families or if they're worried that themselves or a loved one is going to lose the hearing aid.

Sure, and it can happen to anybody. Absolutely. Yeah


Another nice feature um some of the technical side of it where you can check your battery status so you can always know where you are in the day? 


Absolutely. And there are shortcuts that we would teach you. A lot of people say well I have this iPhone, but I have no idea how to use it. We'll go over some shortcuts for how to really simplify using your hearing aid and your cell phone.


It's really wonderful though especially and if you have family that live out of state, you do a lot of FaceTime and you have a hard time hearing them. To be able to okay I have enough, check my battery, I know that I have enough battery for this phone call. You place your your phone right on the table there and your granddaughter's voice is able to come straight to your hearing aid. It makes it easier. Hearing aids are there to help you hear better and also ease of listening this is just another really incredible way to do that.


Now what happens if I'm watching TV? I'm streaming the audio to my, to my hearing aids and I get a phone call, what happens then?


So, we can choose how you have the hearing aids set and we would go over this in the office for the audio routing. If your hearing aids are streaming the TV, because you have an accessory to stream the TV, or if you are listening to music and a phone call comes in. It automatically will switch over once you answer the call to go to your hearing aids, So, you still have to force that to answer, the hearing aids aren't going to answer the phone call for you. So, a lot of people are like I get a lot of spam calls, I don't want to deal with this, you don't have to answer every call just because it's streaming to your hearing aid. You can actually have it ring on the phone, answer it and then talk like you normally would.


Now what happens, let's say I'm streaming a call or listening to some music directly. Am I in danger of missing something in my environment that I might need to hear?


So, your hearing aid microphones are still going to be on while you're streaming. For safety concerns we keep those microphones on unless it's explicitly requested that we turn them off. So, what it typically is is it's a reduction in the surrounding environmental noise, but it is never fully reduced where you would not be able to hear someone calling your name or other safety measures. So, you still will get that streaming but you'll also still be able to listen to the sounds around you.


So many advantages with a phone and your hearing aids. Great information. Jenna, thank you so much. Absolutely. Thank you 


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