Native Hearing Aid Streaming Support Headed to Android

Android hearing aid streaming support

Google is working to make Android more accessible for users with hearing aids.

The web giant on Thursday published a new, open specification for hearing aid streaming support on future versions of its mobile operating system.

“Users with hearing loss will be able to connect, pair, and monitor their hearing aids so they can hear their phones loudly and clearly,” Google Vice President of Engineering Seang Chau wrote in a Thursday post on the Android Developers Blog.

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Developed in collaboration with Danish hearing aid maker GN Hearing, the new spec dubbed ASHA, or Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids is designed to have a “minimal impact on battery life with low-latency while maintaining a high-quality audio experience,” Chau wrote.

With this new spec, any hearing aid manufacturer can build native support for Android into their products. GN Hearing’s recently-launched ReSound LiNX Quattro and Beltone Amaze will be the first hearing aids to allow for direct audio streaming from Android devices, the company said. The feature will arrive as part of a “future Android release.”

As of this March, around 466 million people across the world had disabling hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization, Chau noted. By 2050, that number is expected to jump to more than 900 million people.

Apple has its own solution for hearing aid users. In 2014, the company launched a feature called Live Listen, which turns your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch into a “remote microphone that sends sound to your … hearing aid,” the Cupertino tech giant explains in a support page. This feature can “help you hear a conversation in a noisy room or hear someone speaking across the room.” It currently only works with special “Made for iPhone” hearing aids, but is slated to launch on Apple AirPods as part of iOS 12 this fall.

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