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Cochlear implants to be compatible with Apple devices

Friday 28th July 2017
Technological developments will make cochlear implants compatible with Apple devices for the first time. Image: gpointstudio via iStock
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Innovative new technology will allow people who have been fitted with a cochlear implant to make calls and listen to music via their Apple smartphones without the need for an additional device for the first time.

Cochlear Ltd has announced that its next implant sound processor, the Nucleus 7, which is scheduled for release in September, will be compatible with Apple products including iPhones, iPads and iPods, allowing people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to use these devices in the same way as hearing individuals.

In the past, when people with cochlear implants have wanted to make phone calls or listen to music via their phones, they have needed to wear an extra Bluetooth-controlled gadget around their necks that acts as a connection between their hearing aid and their smartphone.

But this will no longer be the case within the next few months, as Cochlear's latest sound processors will be able to gather sound, turn it into an electrical signal and send it directly to an electrode that sits within the microchip contained in a cochlear implant.

As a result, this should allow people with hearing loss to hear sounds generated by their smartphones without any trouble.

Speaking to Reuters, entrepreneur Russ Levanway, who lost most of his hearing at the age of four due to an illness, explained that he is able to hear in face-to-face conversations with his cochlear implant and has been taking advantage of Cochlear's Bluetooth capabilities over the past few years.

"It works pretty well, but it's not seamless. I have to join conference calls early and work out the glitches before the call starts," he said.

"To hear Apple is doing something that connects directly with the implant, that's tremendous."

Director of global accessibility policy at Apple Sarah Herrlinger explained that one of the main challenges of the technology development had been making sure it still works for people who have one cochlear implant and one hearing aid.

Written by James Puckle

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