Google teams up with GN, Cochlear to bring direct phone streaming to hearing aids

Hearing aid makers GN Hearing and Cochlear have paired up with Google to allow users to stream music and calls directly from Android smartphones to their hearing devices just as they would any wireless headset.

The features employ Bluetooth Low Energy technology, which aims to maintain battery life while providing the same data and communication capabilities as traditional Bluetooth. 

They are also based on an open-source hearing device streaming specification, developed by Google in collaboration with GN and Cochlear, and were released as part of the tech giant’s rollout of its Android 10 operating system. 

“The benefit to our users is they will no longer have to use an intermediate device to stream audio from a compatible Android device to their cochlear implant sound processor or hearing aid,” Cochlear Chief Technology Officer Jan Janssen said in a statement, which described the battery-conserving support as a world first.

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According to the companies, Google’s Pixel 3 and 3a lines of smartphones will be the first to offer direct streaming to GN’s ReSound LiNX Quattro and Beltone Amaze hearing aids as well as Cochlear’s Nucleus 7 sound processor. 

“We’ve partnered up with some of the leading technology companies in the world to deliver innovation with the user at heart,” said GN President and CEO Jakob Gudbrand. “Now people with hearing loss can enjoy effortless streaming all day long and easily connect with people.”

The technology will be made available through software and firmware updates to Android and the company's devices, and the open-source specification allows other manufacturers of hearing aids, devices or smartphones to offer direct streaming in the future, the companies said.