Meet the implant giving hearing loss patients access to their iPhone

(Image credit: Pixabay)
  • Given people with Cochlear implants represent a small market opportunity for a technology giant like Apple how did this technology come about? 

Cochlear and Apple have been working together for more than eight years to bring the first Made for iPhone implantable hearing solutions to market.  In 2015, Cochlear released the Baha 5 sound processor - the first ever Made for iPhone bone conduction sound processor, available to people with moderate to severe hearing loss.  In 2017, Cochlear introduced the world’s first Made for iPhone cochlear implant sound processor — the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor — providing access to the digital world like never before for people with severe to profound hearing loss. It is great to see that technology giants like Apple are really committed to provide accessibility for people with hearing loss. 

(Image credit: Cochlear)
  • How has this partnership benefited those who need a cochlear implant?

The collaboration between Apple and Cochlear has benefited our customers as it has allows them to take a phone call, listen to music or hear the guidance from a navigation app directly on their Nucleus 7 sound processor. Nucleus 7 users also can control their sound processor directly from their smartphone using the Nucleus Smart App. 

The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor offers greater connectivity for the user than any other cochlear implant sound processor available today. Not only does the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor offer many benefits for a person who already has a cochlear implant and is considering an upgrade, it also offers first-of-its-kind connectivity to someone with severe to profound hearing loss for whom a hearing aid is no longer working.

  • Why are more and more technology companies putting a greater emphasis on accessibility? 

The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor is the latest in a range of Made for iPhone hearing solutions brought to market by Cochlear. Cochlear’s engineering team has worked closely with Apple’s team who are dedicated to ‘accessibility’ and expanding Made for iPhone technology to more people. 

Embracing digital technologies that enhance the experience and hearing performance for people who rely on our products is a key focus of our product innovation. With changing consumer demand and more people wanting control over their health, we do foresee a growing trend for technology solutions that enhance people’s hearing or other abilities. In fact according to a survey of UK baby boomers, 77% would be open to enhancing their senses through technology and cochlear implants are a great example on how people can greatly enhance their quality of life through technology. 

  • How are the capabilities of Nucleus 7 users 'superhuman' and beyond that of even people with 'normal' hearing? 

The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor offers a range of first-of-its-kind features with the Nucleus Smart App. From locating a lost or misplaced sound processor using the Find My Processor feature, through to confidently tracking progress with the Hearing Tracker feature, or reducing noise from behind so you can focus on the conversation in front of you with the ForwardFocus feature, users can experience unprecedented connectivity and performance. 

For parents of children with the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor and the Nucleus Smart App it gives them the ability to control and monitor their child’s sound processor remotely through a compatible smartphone for the first time. Parents are able to see battery status, adjust volume and change programs using the Nucleus Smart App without needing to touch the sound processor, offering less disruption for the child and saving parent’s time.

  • Where do you see the future of innovation within hearing technology heading?

Cochlear is committed to providing people with disabling hearing loss innovative solutions to help them reach their full hearing potential, which includes bringing them the benefits and conveniences of Made for iPhone technology.  We look forward to being able to continue to innovate and bring to market new solutions for our customers to continue to offer hearing solutions that advance hearing performance and hearing outcomes.  

Jan Janssen is chief technology officer of Cochlear