Apple has reportedly partnered with Australian-based hearing implants maker Cochlear on their first iPhone-connected hearing implant accessory.
According to TechCrunch today, it’s the first “Made for iPhone” Cochlear implant that lets patients with a hearing implant control and customize the sound from their iPhone.
Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June, the device uses Cochlear’s custom-built Nucleus 7 sound chip capable of streaming sound directly from a compatible iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to a patient’s surgically embedded sound processor, no app needed.
The new chip comes with a longer battery life, is smaller and 24 percent lighter than its predecessor, making it ideal for small children with hearing loss as well. Apple has specifically developed a protocol for hearing aid and implant devices and offered it for free to Cochlear and other manufacturers to use with their devices.
Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s Senior Manager for Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives, said:
We wanted to see something that could become ubiquitous out in the world. We want everybody to use our technology and to say ‘wow my iPhone is the best piece of technology I’ve ever used before’.
With every iteration of our operating system our goal is to add in new accessibility features in order to expand the support that we can give to people all over the world.
The Apple-certified accessory can be controlled directly from an iOS device via the Settings → General → Accessibility section underneath the Hearing Devices heading. As soon as the implant is paired up, it can be controlled using an iOS device’s volume controls.
More than 50 million Americans have experienced some sort of hearing loss due to one reason or another, according to the Hearing Health Foundation.