Cochlear releases first MFi hearing implant created in partnership with Apple

As we reported, Apple and Australian hearing aids maker Cochlear struck a partnership in July. Today, Cochlear released its first product born out of that partnership—a tiny “Made for iOS”-certified hearing implant that can stream audio wirelessly from an iOS device directly to a surgically embedded Nucleus 7 sound processor.

Available starting today in Australia, Cochlear says the device will hit other markets soon.

Hearing-impaired customers can take advantage of the accessory to listen to music and podcasts in high-quality stereo sound, make calls, watch videos and more, with the sound streamed wirelessly directly to the implant. The company’s Nucleus 7 sound chip files as the world’s first “Made for iOS”-certified cochlear implant sound processor.

The implant is compatible with any iPhone from iPhone 5 onward, all iPad Pro models, iPad mini and later and the fourth-generation iPad and later.

Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s Director of Accessibility technologies, told The Australian that Apple has partnered with other hearing aid makers on similar solutions.

We consider it one of our core corporate values, an area where we put significant amount of time and energy ensuring our products work for everyone.

We started looking at this program around the concept of Bluetooth LE and how it would be a beneficial tool in this specific circumstance. The work we have done is applicable both to hearing aids and sound processors.

In working with Cochlear on this integration, Apple in 2014 developed a more advanced form of Bluetooth low-energy audio, called Low Energy Audio, that lets tiny hearing implants connect to iOS without draining the battery.