One reason could be the difference in cost or maybe it was just plain 'uncool' to sports a hearing aid nowadays. Whatever the reasons, hearing-aid manufacturers and audiologists are confident that the new collaboration between them and Apple will help.
Apple and Danish hearing-aid company GN ReSound announced in late February the development of a new hearing aid that's compatible with the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Called LiNX, the device syncs wirelessly with the newest Apple mobile devices and takes advantage of iOS 7's new accessibility options for the hearing-impaired.
At its most basic level, the LiNX acts like a hybrid of hearing aids and stereo Bluetooth headphones. Phone calls, FaceTime chats, music, movies, turn-by-turn navigation or other audio can be streamed directly to a small earpiece. When they're not pulling in audio from a smartphone or tablet, the hearing aids work like normal, picking up in-person conversations and surrounding sounds.
This being Apple, there are plenty of bells and whistles packed in. A feature called Live Listen turns an iOS device into microphone. If someone's in a loud environment – a busy meeting, a sporting event, a noisy car – and wants to focus on one person's voice and cut down on background noise, they can get a stream directly from the smartphone's mic to their ears. (This feature has the potential for some fun eavesdropping mischief.)
Using GPS, you can save custom settings for a specific location, say a movie theater or your cubicle at work, and get a pop-up notification on your mobile device asking whether you'd like to switch every time you return to that spot. Don't remember where you left your hearing aids? Use a phone or tablet to locate them.
Apple and the device's makers hope it will encourage more people with hearing loss to get help earlier.
"Right now, people wait about eight years on average between the time they think they have a hearing problem and when they see someone about it," said audiologist Dr. Ken Smith.
More than 36 million people in the U.S. have some hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, but only one out of five people who need a hearing aid actually have one. However, if rumors are true that a single LiNX hearing aid will cost about US$ 3,000, then, whether its Apple or Samsung, the figures won’t change drastically overnight.