Google, GN and Cochlear partner for direct audio streaming tech for the hard of hearing

GN CEO Jakob Gudbrand

Hearing aid connectivity firm GN Hearing, together with Cochlear, which specialises in implantable hearing solutions, and Google, have announced support for direct streaming from Android devices to hearing devices using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).

The new technology is based on a recent hearing aid specification, Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA) on Bluetooth Low Energy Connection-Oriented Channels, which Google has developed in collaboration with GN Hearing and Cochlear.

The direct streaming technology from compatible Android devices allows people to use their hearing devices like a headset to enjoy music, take calls and more, while using a protocol designed to maximise battery life. With BLE, people can use technology designed for streaming all day while preserving the battery life of their hearing devices, which is a challenge for Classic Bluetooth streaming.

According to the World Health Organization, around 466m people worldwide live with disabling hearing loss, and the number is increasing by millions every year. With the official release of Android 10, Google’s Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, and Pixel 3a XL handsets will be the first Android phones to support direct streaming to ReSound LiNX Quattro and Beltone Amaze hearing aids and the Cochlear Nucleus 7 Sound Processor. The new streaming technology will be available by way of an update to Android 10, plus a firmware update on the hearing devices. The streaming specification is open source, which means other hearing aids and Android device makers will be able to offer direct audio streaming in the near future.

“We’ve partnered up with some of the leading technology companies in the world to deliver innovation with the user at heart,” said GN Hearing CEO and president, Jakob Gudbrand. “Now people with hearing loss can enjoy effortless streaming all day long and easily connect with people.”