On August 21, 2017, Phonak will release the first ever true Bluetooth hearing aid, the Phonak Audéo B-Direct.
The Audéo B-Direct is a revolutionary product because it is the first hearing aid that can connect directly with any Bluetooth cell phone or other Bluetooth device without the need for an intermediate accessory. Up until now there have been Made for iPhone (MFi) hearing aids, but nothing available with direct Bluetooth streaming for Android, or other non iPhone users.
The Phonak Audéo B-Direct is the first Made for All (MFA) hearing aid. With over 85% of the cell phone market in the world being non-iPhones, this is a huge win for Phonak and will provide a hearing aid solution for Android users and more.
It functions just like completely wireless Bluetooth earbuds. To accomplish this, Phonak developed a proprietary 2.4 GHz Bluetooth chip, called the SWORD (Sonova Wireless One Radio Digital) chip.
Features of the Phonak Audéo B-Direct:
- Size 13 disposable Zinc-air battery
- Available in RIC style push-button
- Maximum distance for Bluetooth streaming: within 30 feet of device
- Compatible accessories: TV adapter and Remote App optional
- IP rating: IP68
- Performance levels: Premium (B90), Advanced (B70), Standard (B50)
- Colors: 9 options
The Pros and Cons of the Audéo B-Direct
Streaming from all phones is to one ear only (monaural). While this is a bummer for those who enjoy stereo streaming, the reason is because the hearing aid microphone on the non-streaming ear acts as the talk-back microphone, so you don’t need your phone nearby, you just talk back through your hearing aid.
Some features of Phonak’s Belong platform that are available on other Audéo B models are disabled, such as the Speech in Loud Noise program, Speech in Wind program, Speech in 360 program, and Duophone. How this will effect sound quality for people, only time will tell, but most likely in extreme environments such as wind or loud noise is where the difference will be detected. To make up for these features being dropped, the Audéo B Direct incorporates an Environmental Balance feature.
As mentioned, you don’t need your phone near you to answer a cell phone call or talk back. You can answer a phone call by giving a short press on the button of your hearing aid, or a long press to reject the call.
You can stream music binaurally from your phone.
With the use of their new TV Connector, you will be able to stream binaurally from any TV or stereo system.
This is a revolutionary new product for the hearing aid industry and it’s exciting to see smart technology continue to expand and be made available for hearing aid users. The hope is for more people with hearing loss to be reached and the Phonak Audéo B-Direct is on track to do that.