The market for assisted hearing devices has gotten larger due to an increase in hearing loss people which is mainly attributed to noise-induced hearing loss from listening to music at high volumes and/or working in loud environments. Traditionally, our grandparents and a small number of people with hearing loss in childhood and during adult life were the traditional market for hearing aids.
Today, more middle-aged adults and even younger people are affected from hearing loss. Ironically, Apple, who is probably considered a major contributor to the problem of hearing loss in young people and adults, is about to enter in the market of hearing aids. Apple plans to release a “Made for iPhone” hearing aid line that will work with the iPhone 4S and newer models this fall and could revolutionize the market much like the iPod, iPhone and iPad.
According to the AppleInsider, the applications published this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are entitled Social Network for Sharing a Hearing Aid Setting and Remotely Updating a Hearing Aid Profile. The both applications describe smart hearing aids that could wirelessly connect to portable devices, like the Iphone, to make life easier for users with hearing issues.
The social network patent describes a system through which users who rely on hearing aids could communicate with one another and share information and settings, so that they might obtain an ideal hearing aid configuration for their current location or activity in the interest. The second patent is related to remotely updating the settings on a hearing aid, and describes how a system could save different configured profiles for specific circumstances.
Apple’s approach to simplifying and enhancing the user experience while delivering products at reasonable prices is set to shake the hearing aid business to its core. If Apple increases production to mode efficient levels and allows the hearing aid to adapt itself to the user, they will dominate the market. A brief review of Apple’s patent filings indicates that they have the right idea.
Apple Insider provides more technical details. http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/12/07/19/filings_detail_apples_plans_to_improve_support_for_hearing_impaired_users.html