By Segun Oniyide
Apple has long been expected to enter the wearables market. Likely candidates have included smart watches, smart glasses, and fitness trackers. But the Apple’s first venture into wearable tech might actually come in a much more specialized realm: hearing aids.
The company has partnered with GN resound, a Danish firm that specializes in hearing aids, to design a flashy new model that offers deep integration with iOS 7 devices.
The product is called the LiNX, and it’s tailor-made for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. The sleek wireless gadget either collects signals from its immediate surroundings like a traditional aid—or streams audio directly from an Apple device, making it more comfortable than ever before for the hearing impaired to take calls or watch movies on a personal gadget.
What’s more, instead of reaching for controls on the aid itself to change settings, users can instead adjust volume, bass, or treble right from an Apple device.
The extra features have some of the usual Apple flair: If you lose your hearing aid, you can use your iPad to find it. The LiNX also employs GPS to intelligently load saved settings when you arrive at places you frequent the grocery store, church, the movie theater. And users can try out Live Listen, which transforms an iOS device into a microphone that streams audio directly to the hearing aid.
About 36 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, but only one in five of those who need hearing aids actually go and get one. A flashy new product from the Apple store could conceivably motivate more people to get the help they need.