Apple iPhone gets native hearing implant

The new development is aimed to help users with a surgically embedded implant to control and customise hearing from iPhone.

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Picture for representation Reuters

Apple has partnered with Australia-based Cochlear to launch the world's first iPhone-compatible cochlear implant sound processor. The new development is aimed to help users with a surgically embedded implant to control and customise hearing from iPhone.

Called Nucleus 7 Sound Processor, the latest device by the Sydney-headquartered is touted to be the smallest and lightest behind-the-ear cochlear implant sound processor in the market. It is capable of streaming sound directly from a compatible iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. In addition to streaming sound, the device has features to let users control, monitor and customise their hearing using a specific Nucleus Smart app.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Cochlear processor in June. People with hearing loss can leverage the technology not just to stream audio notifications and music but also to make FaceTime calls with their loved ones.

"The advancements provided by the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor give parents more control and allow them to better monitor their child's hearing while adults and teenagers will be able to stream music and make FaceTime calls just like their hearing friends and family," said Laurel Mahoney, cochlear implant audiologist and clinical assistant professor in the department of Otolaryngology, NYU Langone Medical Center.

Technology under the roof

The Nucleus 7 Sound Procesor includes a hearing tracker that records coil-offs time and time in speech. Further, the proprietary app that can be downloaded from the App Store for free helps locate a lost sound processor by using the Location Services on Apple devices. The device and the app communicate just like a Bluetooth headset works on iOS.

Cochlear has improved its new model with a build that is 25 percent smaller and 24 percent lighter than its predecessor. Nevertheless, the fresh technology is claimed to deliver up to 50 percent longer battery life than the company's previous generation behind-the-ear sound processor.

"This new sound processor builds on our long-standing commitment to help more people with hearing loss connect with others and live a full life," Cochlear CEO Chris Smith said in an official statement.

Cochlear is set to launch its implant processor in September. In the meantime, Apple has developed a "Made for iPhone hearing aids" page to list all the compatible models at one single place.

Hearing loss likely affect 1.2bn in 2020

According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation, over 360 million people are living with disabling hearing loss worldwide. This drastic figure is predicted to reach 1.2 billion by 2020. New technologies such as the advanced cochlear implant could potentially benefit the affected people going forward.