Imagine you’re someone who relies on hearing devices and you find yourself in the following situation:
Your cell phone starts ringing – or rather you notice your cell phone’s ringing. You’re in a crowded shopping centre, so who knows how long it took for you to notice the ringtone. Your stomach sinks a bit as you realize how difficult it will be to hear your caller in this place. You lift the phone up and see its your boss. Your heartbeat speeds up and your skin goes cold with the thought of trying to hear them speak. You swipe to answer the call and you hold up your phone to your ear, but not really to your ear. Instead you have to find that perfect angle between the cell phone speaker and the hearing device microphone. The one that best transmits sound without causing too much feedback. You finally find it and you hear only the last part of their sentence. You reply with what you hope is the socially correct response. Between the background noise, feedback, and the fading of their voice as the phone drifts just millimetres away from the hearing device’s microphone, you only hear bits and pieces of what they’re saying. Your heart pounds with worry and stress that you might be missing something important.
The other scenario? Your cell phone rings, you hear it through your hearing devices. You swipe to answer and the speaker’s voice is right in your ears – perfectly clear. With one button press you can mute everything around you and just focus on the call.
As someone who’s been through both scenarios, I can absolutely tell you which one I prefer to be in.
The anxiety conveyed in the first situation may sound like pure hyperbole, but its not at all. For many of those who rely on hearing devices, there’s not much that’s more stressful than having to answer a phone call in a busy place and worrying that you’ll say the wrong thing or miss out on a critical piece of information. However, all of that stress is removed with today’s crop of Bluetooth-equipped hearing devices.
And this benefit doesn’t end with simple phone calls. Listening to music or podcasts, participating in conference call meetings, and making Skype calls are all potentially difficult situations that benefit form direct Bluetooth technology. Even non-communicative tasks benefit; for example, I can look at my phone anytime and see exactly how much battery life my hearing devices have remaining. I can even have my devices send me a text when they get to 30%. Eliminating the surprise of a low battery warning is a huge reduction in stress for me.
Its common for people in the hearing health world to say these new devices act like Bluetooth headsets and wireless speakers – but that’s drastically underselling the impact these products have on human lives. These new devices aren’t coming equipped with the capability to answer calls and stream music – they’re coming equipped with quality-of-life improving, anxiety reducing capabilities. They’re able to let users feel comfortable and relaxed and prepared to meet their daily communication needs as they arise, stress and worry free. Bluetooth-enabled hearing devices aren’t just a gimmick, they can have a real impact on the wellbeing of those who rely on hearing devices in their everyday lives.