Apple has teamed with medical device maker Cochlear Limited to create a cochlear implant capable of syncing with Apple devices.
Cochlear’s products have been able to work in tandem with Apple devices previously, but implant wearers had to connect the sound processor to a Bluetooth device that usually had to be worn around the neck like a pendant. This advancement eliminates the use of any additional hardware.
Jan Janssen, Senior Vice President of research and development at Cochlear told Reuters “It’s the first time people with an iPhone will be able to pick up the phone normally, or just listen to music, without any additional devices,”
Cochlear implants are surgically inserted into the patient’s skin under the ear. While traditional hearing aids amplify the volume of sounds, cochlear implants work for the damaged parts of the inner ear, converting sound into electrical signals and stimulating the hearing nerve directly.
According to the World Health Organization, there are currently around 360 million people with disabling hearing loss all over the globe. When hearing aids are not enough, Cochlear implants come as an effective alternative for patients with severe impairment.
Over the past recent years Apple has partnered with other medical technology companies like GN ReSound and Starkey to create IOS-compatible hearing aids, with Apple developing the required protocols and licensing them for free. There are currently more than 50 hearing aids in the market that work with Apple products.
The Cochlear Nucleus 7 device will allow users to adjust the volume or check for battery status directly from iOS without the need of any additional app, although other additional features like finding a lost implant will require buyers to download the official app.
Initially, this new device is scheduled for release in the United States and Canada in September 2017. Aussies might have to wait a little bit longer. The price of the The Cochlear Nucleus 7 has not yet been announced.