Technology is evolving. Everywhere we look people are becoming more connected. Not just with a Smart TV but with Smart Homes. Google Hub can connect your lights, thermostat, music and more. You can unlock the door on your house with your smartphone if you have the right type of lock. You can survey the contents of your refrigerator with your smartphone too. And really, that’s just a few things to make us all “smarter.”

Hearing instruments can now connect to smartphones. This allows for many possibilities. One of the best features is that your phone call will “stream” directly into your hearing instruments. You don’t have to try and figure out where to hold the phone. Magically, you can hear and understand the phone call in both ears. It is the best speech understanding for a phone call that you can get.

Other features that the smartphone can enable with the hearing instruments is fitness tracking, remote microphones, cognitive training, fall detection and alerts. They can even translate 27 languages in real time. There will be heart rate monitoring. The list goes on and on and will just continue to amaze us all.

With all this technology it is important to understand that phone manufacturers have to work with the hearing instrument manufacturers to make products compatible. By this I mean that specific hearing instruments can work with specific cell phones. (They must be cell phones and not land-lines). It’s like having a combination lock. You have to have the right combination to unlock it.

So a bit of advice if you are in the market for a cell phone. Talk to us before making a purchase. Times are evolving. Most of us hope to get a few years out of our cell phones and many people will just add the phone to their phone bill and be under a contract with the phone company for a couple of years.

Maybe you wear hearing instruments already or perhaps you know the time is coming, so we want to help you cover the bases before you buy a phone that isn’t compatible with hearing instruments. Why? Well, along with the added benefits that I previously stated there will be many more that are in development stages.

When you purchase a hearing instrument, it is an important and a significant investment so we want you to get many years of the best hearing possible. Therefore, if you do a little research and ask a few questions you can be better prepared and get the best value for your money.

Starkey Hearing Technologies is the oldest and largest manufacturer of hearing instruments in the country. They have celebrated 52 years. They were the first company to work with Apple to develop a phone and a hearing instruments that could work together. To have an app that would provide the user with extra control and options. This was the first smartphone to communicate with a hearing instrument to provide the best hearing and user experience. That was about 10 years ago. Starkey just keeps making them better. Now, they can connect to more than just one specific iPhone.

Currently, the following phones are compatible with Starkey Bluetooth hearing instruments products:

- Apple iPhones include: 8, 8 plus, 10, X Max, XR, XS, XS Max, and the latest release 11 Pro Max. (Older to newest)

- Android version phones include: 6.0 and higher to include the new, Google Pixel Line: 4, 4x, 3, 3A, 3A XL.

Recently, we have had several patients who purchased new phones with contracts and they have not been compatible. Luckily, a couple were purchased within a couple of days from coming to see us so they were able to switch. This is typically not the case. Also, phones that are said to be “close to an Apple iPhone” is not an iPhone and it will not be compatible. Give us a call...we can help you figure it out. You don’t have to break the bank to get a smart phone or an iPhone ... you just need a little info about them.

We “hear” your frustration and we are here to help. To hear better is to live better.

Roseann B. Kiefer, B.A., BC-HIS, is owner of Lampe and Kiefer Hearing Aid Center, Sebring. This information is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure your condition. Always talk to your doctor before following any medical advice or starting a diet or exercise program.