The company that revolutionized the personal listening device is making waves in the field of audiology. Apple’s iOS 6, coming this fall, will be compatible with “Made for iPhone” hearing aids, and a handful of new patents offer an exciting glimpse of things to come.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark office published two patents for Apple inventions on August 23, 2012. One is a hearing assistance system and the other is for customizable notifications. Both would provide hearing aid users more interactivity with their mobile devices.
The hearing assistance system would help users in difficult listening situations, like those involving background noise and inconsistent speech patterns. The device, likely an iPhone or iPad, would receive speech, convert it to text, and then convert the text to computer-generated speech, which would be sent to the hearing aid. The user would also be able to customize their specifications, such as placing pauses in between individual words or manipulating the playback cadence.
The notification system would provide audible and visual cues for external events like doorbells and fire alarms. The connection between devices could either be wired or wireless according to the user’s preference.
Although we probably won’t see a public version of this technology for quite some time, it’s still exciting to think about how added interactivity with these mobile devices might change the way hearing impaired people communicate with the world around them.