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People affected by hearing loss will find it easier to use their Android smartphones, thanks to the development of official hearing aid support by Google.
The firm has announced a partnership with GN Hearing to develop new low-power hearing aid streaming support to the next generation of Android phones. It is called Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA) on Bluetooth Low Energy Connection-Oriented Channels.
It will mean that users will be able to connect and even monitor their hearing aids via their Android devices.
This is not the first initiative by a tech firm to help mobile phone users with hearing aids bring the two devices together. Apple has already set out to assist its customers with its Made for iPhone hearing aid programme, which is designed to enable people to control their hearing aids using iOS devices.
While Apple may have been first off the mark in producing a phone that could interact with a hearing aid, the Google move may have a wider impact as 85 per cent of the world's smartphones use the Android system, compared with under 15 per cent for iOS devices. With 466 million people worldwide suffering hearing loss according to the World Health Organization - a number expected to almost double by 2050 - ASHA may have a large and growing market to work with.
Indeed, other manufacturers, such as Bose, Oticon and Harman, are also working to develop new devices that will help mobile phones and hearing aids work together more effectively.
The development of mobile devices that are more user-friendly to those with hearing loss may help audiologists, who can not only communicate remotely with patients more easily, but may also find the settings used and changes to them made by the user can help indicate changes in hearing levels and therefore indicate whether more powerful hearing aids are needed.
Written by James Puckle
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