Apple has teamed up with Cochlear Limited, an Australian based cochlear implant company, to make the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor– the first ever cochlear implant sound processor designed to work specifically with an iPhone.
The Nucleus 7 Processor, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June, is now the smallest and lightest behind-the-ear cochlear implant sound processor available on the market. The device will allow people with Cochlear Nucleus Implant to stream sound directly from a compatible iPhone, iPad and iPod touch directly to their sound processor. There will also be an app available that will allow users to control, monitor and customize their hearing on their iPhone or iPod, Cochlear says.
“The approval of the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor is a turning point for people with hearing loss, opening the door for them to make phone calls, listen to music in high-quality stereo sound, watch videos and have FaceTime® calls streamed directly to their cochlear implant,” Chris Smith, Cochlear Chief Executive Officer and President, said. “This new sound processor builds on our long-standing commitment to help more people with hearing loss connect with others and live a full life.”
Worldwide there are 360 million people living with disabling hearing loss, and that number is set to triple to 1.2 million by 2050, according to World Health Organization. But with the use of hearing devices, such as cochlear implants and hearing aids millions can have the ability to hear.
“Technology that offers greater connectivity seeks to make life easier for people with hearing loss,” Laurel Mahoney, cochlear implant audiologist and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center, said.
Connecting one’s Cochlear implant to an iPhone does not require an app. Users can simply connect their implant to their device by going to their iPhone’s settings, clicking “General” then “Accessibility,” scroll down to “hearing devices” and then lastly connect the implant as they would a Bluetooth device, according to Tech Crunch. Once the devices are connected users can control the implant using the iPhone’s volume controls.
“The ability to control both hearing solutions through an iPhone or iPod touch and provide a seamless hearing experience between them is a remarkable technological step forward,” Jan Janssen, Senior Vice President, Research and Development for Cochlear, said. “At Cochlear, we design devices to give recipients greater flexibility to personalize their settings and manage their hearing loss on a daily basis, and these new solutions offer that experience like never before.”
Teaming up with Cochlear to produce the Nucleus 7 Processor is not the first time Apple has dabbled with hearing aid technology. In 2011, the tech giant applied for a patent for a “hearing assistance system for providing consistent human speech.” And in 2013, Apple worked with Danish hearing aid manufacturer GN Store Nerd to create a hearing aid that could connect with iPhones and iPods over 2.4 GHz.
According to Engadget, interested consumers will have to wait until September 2017 for the Nucleus 7, which will only be available in the US and Canada. And consumers who have a Nucleus CI24RE, CI500 or a Profile Series implant, will be eligible for an upgrade in October.