Do Hearing Aids Need Software Updates?
Asked by T Jameson on 30 July 2019
I have heard that some hearing aids get software updates, do all hearing aids need to be updated with software updates?
Answered by Geoffrey Cooling
Software Updates For Hearing Aid Connectivity
Good question, software or firmware updates for hearing aids are a more recent occurrence. It is only in the last few years that we have seen firmware updates pushed out to hearing aids. At this stage, many of the hearing aid brands provide occassional software updates to their hearing aids. It appears to primarily happen with Bluetooth hearing aids, the so called Made For iPhone hearing devices. The hearing aid brands don't necessarily tell us what the updates actually consist of, but they appear to be pushed out around the time that there are changes to iPhone operating systems. I would imagine that there probably is a direct relationship with that. It appears every time Apple changes its iPhones there are connection issues with hearing aids. I assume that the firmware updates are to ensure that the connectivity protocol on the hearing aids is robust and suitable for any iPhone operating software changes. In some cases, the updates have obviously been to correct an underlying problem.
Changes to How Hearing Aids Work
While up to now, I don't think the firmware upgrades have really changed how the hearing aids work, I believe that is also going to change. ReSound have spoken about a new system for their Smartphone app that will gather information to make the hearing aids work better. They say that it will lead to software updates for the hearing aids that will change the way they work.
Widex has already got a similar system in place and they were the first hearing aid brand to do it. Their system gathers information on how the people who use the devices react to changes in the sound profile. This information is gathered and used to push out firmware updates that actually change how the hearing aids react in different situations.
There are strong rumours that Phonak will be pushing out a firmware update for their very successful Marvel hearing aids some time later this year that will increase the functionality of the devices even further. So it appears that software upgrades for hearing aids are going mainstream and are here to stay.
How Can You Get Your Hearing Aid Upgraded?
Widex and Resound will push out software upgrades via their smartphone apps for their Bluetooth enabled hearing aids. If you don't have a smartphone, or if your hearing aid is not Bluetooth enabled, you can have any firmware updates applied at the clinic. The other hearing aid brands appear to do it via the software in the clinic.
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