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Starkey Hearing Aids and Amazon Fire TV Cube Can Now Connect through Bluetooth LE

Now that hearing aids and the Amazon Fire TV Cube streaming box can be paired, watching their favorite TV shows will be more enjoyable for those who have hearing loss.

The e-commerce and smart home giant claimed on Thursday that the Fire TV Cube, now in its second iteration, is the first streaming device from a US tech company that can transform a hearing aid into a Bluetooth headset that is tailored to a person's exact hearing needs.

The function enables the Fire TV Cube to work with the open-source hearing aid communication protocol Audio Streaming for Hearing Aid. The streaming gadget will be compatible with hearing aids made by Starkey, which produces goods sold under the Audibel, NuEar, MicroTech, and Audigy brand names. Amazon, Starkey, and the designers of the device processors collaborated to modify their technologies in order to make them compatible.

According to Amazon's director of accessibility for devices, Peter Korn, connecting a streaming box with hearing aids was difficult. This is because, in comparison to other devices, such mobile phones, consumers typically sit further away from their televisions. (Hearing aids are already compatible with Apple iPhones and Android-powered phones.)

According to the World Health Organization, 1.5 billion people worldwide — or close to one in five — have hearing loss. According to Korn, many of them regard being able to hear their TV better as their second-most desired lifestyle enhancement. He claims that the first is to hear conversations more clearly.

According to Korn, "the innovation for us was realizing that clients wanted TV next and we discovered a way to deliver it."

You can go the Fire TV Settings, go to Accessibility, and then choose Hearing Aids to pair your hearing aids with your Fire TV Cube. According to Amazons, it's comparable to pairing Bluetooth headphones. Additionally, you can use this capability to hear Alexa on the Fire TV Cube with hearing aids. There are currently gadgets that plug straight into TVs and transmit sound to hearing aids through Bluetooth. Owners of the Fire TV Cube won't require an additional device.

Another illustration of Big Tech's attempts to provide accessibility for individuals with impairments is its support for the Fire TV Cube. Screen reading software, screen magnifiers, and spectacles for the blind that can read text and recognize faces are additional accessibility technologies.

The Bluetooth connecting capability is one of many improvements to hearing aids and cochlear implants' capabilities. Both devices have benefited from the same technology shrinking over time that has made phone and computer chips more potent even as they get smaller.

Hearing aids have incredibly small parts that are made feasible by earbud-like technology. Between the speaker, which transmits the sound into someone's ear, and the microphone, which captures ambient noises, are processors. The processors in hearing aids also boost sound waves from particular frequencies that the listener has trouble hearing. Similar to how an optometrist chooses a prescription to correct a patient's eyesight, audiologists customize that amplification to each individual's hearing loss.

The process of getting sound into the listener's ear is simplified when a hearing aid is connected directly to the Fire TV Cube. Direct digital transmission of the sound-encoding information from a TV program, sports broadcast, or movie is made to the hearing aid's tiny antenna. In contrast, for the hearing aid to detect and process sound, waves from a TV speaker must travel across the room, increasing the chance of echoes and muffling.

Although delivering digital music files over Bluetooth is more effective than sending sound waves across the air, Korn claimed that it took "100 minor fixes" in cooperation with chipmaker MediaTek and Starkey to make it function.

According to Achin Bhowmik, chief technology officer and executive vice president of engineering at Starkey, "we are transforming hearing aids into versatile gadgets." We are paving the road for cutting-edge items to connect with and stream audio to our state-of-the-art hearing devices through strategic relationships with companies like Amazon.

Because the hearing aids' small batteries must operate continuously throughout the day and weren't made to withstand the intense workload that a full strength Bluetooth signal would provide, they connect through Bluetooth Low Energy (LE).

As per Korn, his team is not finished. Later this year, compatibility will be extended to other Fire streaming devices, such as the Fire TV Stick and the Fire TV streaming service integrated into TVs supplied by Amazon and other manufacturers. Along with more hearing aids that use the Audio Streaming for Hearing Aid protocol, Amazon also has its sights set on integrating cochlear implants with Fire TV.