Wireless hearing care has come of age

 by Arild Rasmussen, Project Director 

The promise of wireless hearing care for patients has been around for a while, creeping up on us in various forms and technologies.

Technologies such as Infrared and Bluetooth have made it possible for patients to have an increasing amount of control over their advanced hearing instruments. In recent years, we have also seen the introduction of apps, allowing patients even more control of their hearing in their daily lives.

However, it is with the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) standard, also known as Bluetooth Smart, that wireless hearing care has truly come of age.

BLE consumes low power, is small and continues to shrink; making it ideal for inclusion in today’s hearing instruments.

This is why last year, several manufacturers released hearing instruments with BLE built in. With wireless BLE in hearing instruments, the number of streaming and communication options available to the patient can be virtually unlimited.

Preparing for Future

However, one challenge remained for releasing BLE on the hearing care industry: finding the best way for professionals to program BLE instruments.

HIMSA member companies could see the benefit of creating a standardized programming interface solution, allowing professionals to use a single BLE programmer for all BLE hearing instruments. 

That’s why for the last year, HIMSA has been working on our new solution – Noahlink Wireless.

Noahlink Wireless, released last fall, is a HIMSA manufactured device which has been developed in a cooperation between HIMSA’s six partner companies - Resound, Oticon, Sivantos, Sonova, Starkey, and Widex.

Noahlink Wireless is based on the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) standard, providing wireless programming between your computer and BLE enabled hearing instruments. This means that manufacturers can rely on Noahlink Wireless for their wireless programming.

Programming with Benefits

One of the unseen benefits that BLE provides professionals is freedom of movement. 

While the NOAHlink programming interface provides wireless between the patient and computer, it is still necessary for the patient to wear the NOAHlink and in most cases use cables up to the hearing instrument.

However, for hearing instruments with built-in BLE, Noahlink Wireless can provide wireless connection between the computer and the hearing instrument, allowing freedom of movement and more comfort during the programming process.

Noahlink Wireless is also small and light and has no fitting cables, making it much easier to take along for off-site patient visits.


When will Noahlink Wireless be supported?

Noahlink Wireless has been officially released, paving the way for standardized programming of BLE instruments.

GN Resound has already announced support for Noahlink Wireless. We expect more manufacturers to announce Noahlink Wireless-compatibility at this year’s AudiologyNOW! show next month.