» iPhone-assisted hearing aids

Writing for Re/code, Dawn Chmielewski looks at some of the fruit born by Apple’s “Made for iPhone” initiative, such as Starkey’s Halo hearing aids that come with a companion iPhone app:

The app allows people to easily adjust the sound settings to the environment. The geotagging feature uses the iPhone’s integrated GPS to trigger customized settings whenever the wearer returns to familiar places — a favorite restaurant, the movie theater, etc.

The app’s Live Microphone feature addresses a frequent complaint among hearing-aid wearers: In a noisy environment like a restaurant, it’s nearly impossible to hear a dinner companion because of all the ambient noise. With the iPhone connection, the user can place the phone in front of the person opposite him or her at the table and use the iPhone’s microphone to pick up the conversation.

There are two people in my family who should be wearing hearing aids and are not, so advancements like this fascinate me. Context awareness is huge for these devices. It’s shocking enough for an adult to be hit with a sudden loud noise because you didn’t manually adjust the volume before changing contexts, but for a child it can be downright traumatic.