MacRumors reports on an in-depth story from Wired that explains exactly how Apple and hearing aid company Cochlear teamed up to create the first Made for iPhone Cochlear implant, which is able to stream audio from an iPhone or iPad to a surgically embedded sound processor.
As Bluetooth LE is only able to send low-bandwidth data, such as heart-rate monitor readings, for example, Apple’s accessibility team actually went as far as to create an advanced version of the current Bluetooth Low Energy profile, Bluetooth Low Energy Audio (BLEA), in order to stream high-quality audio to a hearing device without draining their zinc batteries.
Apple has been researching BLEA for several years, with patents dating back to 2014, but has only now spoken about using it in a consumer product.
“While our devices have been built to support hearing aids for years, we found that the experience of people trying to make a phone call was not always a good one,” said Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s director of global accessibility policy. “So we brought together a lot of people in different areas around the company to start investigating ways to make the process easier.
“Our goal was to get rid of all those extra things that need batteries and can get in the way, so when a phone call comes in you just hit the button to answer it and that sound is streaming into your hearing aid.”
Sources: Apple Used Bluetooth Low Energy Audio for Cochlear Implant iPhone Accessory
How Apple Is Putting Voices in Users’ Heads—Literally | Backchannel