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The device is compatible with iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches without the need for an app to operate, ultimately providing an easy, high-quality experience. The new cochlear implant from Apple and Cochlear is the smallest and lightest ever made. (All photos via Cochlear)

 

Cochlear, an Australian-based company that has helped more than 450,000 people around the world, in over 100 countries, to be able to hear. Apple, one of the largest companies on the planet that really doesn’t need any further introduction, have announced the product of their partnership; namely the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor, which should be available in September 2017. The device was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June of 2017, and it presents the first opportunity for cochlear implant users to stream sound directly from their mobile phone without interfacing through an app. Chris Smith, CEO and President of Cochlear, says that, “The approval of the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor [by the FDA] is a turning point for people with hearing loss, opening the door for them to make phone calls, listen to music in high-quality stereo sound, watch videos and have FaceTime calls streamed directly to their cochlear implant.”

 

Cochlear’s website states that the device offers an added variety of features through the Nucleus Smart App, such as the “Hearing Tracker,” which records “coil-offs time” (length of time in which the sound processor doesn’t detect the implant coil), and time in speech. There is also a “Find My Processor” feature which uses Location Services on the Apple device to identify the last place the sound processor was connected to the paired device. The article on Cochlear’s website also mentions the first “Made for iPhone Smart Bimodal Solution,” in which the user also wears a compatible ReSound hearing aid, in addition to the implanted Nucleus 7 Sound Processor, and this reportedly, “...[enables] both hearing solutions to provide synchronized streaming to both ears from a compatible [device].” Also, this iteration of Cochlear’s sound processors has a new processing chip which provides greater efficiency, and ultimately gives users 50 percent longer battery life than the previous generation.

 

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This model set to be released.

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 360 million people are affected by disabling hearing loss (refers to loss greater than 40 decibels in the better hearing ear for adults, and hearing loss greater than 30 decibels in the better hearing ear for children), and as many as 72 million people could benefit from hearing devices such as cochlear implants and hearing aids. While many of the people suffering through disabling hearing loss live in “low- and middle-income countries,” and possibly cannot afford smartphones, hopefully, the increasing ubiquity of such devices, and the backward compatibility* will make the technology produced by Apple and Cochlear as affordable and accessible as possible.

 

The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor is compatible with just about everything past iPhone 5. Would have been cool to support older iOS devices. Just thinking of cost, you know?

 

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