Since 2014 Apple has been providing a helpful feature called “Live Listen” in its smartphones and tablets. “Live Listen” allows someone with third-party, Apple compatible hearing aids to use their personal devices as hearing assistive technology.
Similar to an Assisted Listening Device (ALD) such as a portable microphone, “Live Listen” allows a user to place their device (within bluetooth range) close to a person speaking so that they can focus in on what the speaker is saying in a noisy environment. With “Live Listen”, sitting in a crowded restaurant needn’t be a problem. To hear the conversation at the table, a person with “Live Listen” just points their device microphone in the direction of the speaker”.
The New “Live Listen”
This year Apple has taken their assistive listening strategy one step further, by enabling their wireless headphones, “Apple AirPods” to function in the same way the enabled hearing aids would.
This is not to say Apple is trying to replace hearing aids — quite the contrary. By providing this technology in their AirPods, Apple is making access to improved targeted hearing that much easier. Those individuals who don’t already have the technology in their hearing aids, can try on a pair of AirPods with their phone equipped with the iOS 12 operating system, and be able to zero in more easily on one particular speaker.
Not For Everyone
For many hearing aid wearers, this technology isn’t needed, since their hearing aids are sufficient at providing all the precision amplification they need. But for others, the “Live Listen” enabled airpods may give that added boost just like an ALD would.
How Does It Work?
First things first. Before you can try out your AirPods in a noisy room, you’ll need to make sure your phone or tablet is properly set up. You must have iOS 12 to access “Live Listen”, which means you may want to wait until its formal release this fall instead of choosing to use the beta version. And of course, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a pair of AirPods on you.
The “Live Listen” feature accesses your device’s microphone, and amplifies signals received to your AirPods. So, wherever you have it pointed is what you’ll hear more clearly. Like an ALD microphone, you can set it in the middle of the table to hear the conversation, or close to a professor at a lecture as long as you’re still in Bluetooth range.
A Replacement For Hearing Aids?
The “Live Listen” is by no means a replacement for hearing aids — this is something Apple is intent on making clear. Hearing aid technology is very precise and is focused on a more comprehensive hearing improvement solution.
But, for those instances when hearing aids may not be enough, or for someone who doesn’t yet have a hearing aid, in certain situations “Live Listen” can provide a temporary boost in the appropriate environment.
Using both can be a great combination. But trying to use just “live listen” as a hearing aid may become inconvenient quickly as your device must be accessed and constantly in “live listen” mode to work. Hearing aids need no such additional device.
For more information about “Live Listen” and other Assisted Listening Device (ALD) technology, call our office today to speak to a hearing health professional.