Apple Developed Bluetooth Low Energy Audio for Cochlear’s Made for iPhone Nucleus 7 Implant

BY Rajesh Pandey

Published 3 Aug 2017

Last week, Cochlear announced the first made for iPhone implants that worked directly with an iPhone to stream sound to the wearer’s ear. The initial report detailed that Apple worked closely with Cochlear and other hearing implants manufacturer to help create a direct Bluetooth connection with the implants. 

After developing the protocol, Apple went ahead and licensed it for free for other implant makers to use. Now, a new Wired report details how Apple collaborated with Cochlear to allow its latest Nucleus 7 sound processor to stream not only phone calls but also audio books, movie, and even Siri straight from an iPhone.

“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,” says 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.”

The report details how Apple developed Bluetooth LEA, Low Energy Audio, to be able to circumvent the problem of streaming high-quality audio straight to the implants without draining their small batteries. That’s not all though. The company also worked on tuning its solution to meet the “battery technology used in the hearing aids and cochlear implants.” It also worked on figuring out how some packets that were lost in transmissions could be re-transmitted.

“We chose Bluetooth LE technology because that was the lowest power radio we had in our phones,” says Sriram Hariharan, an engineering manager on Apple’s CoreBluetooth team. To make LEA work with cochlear implants he says, “We spent a lot of time tuning our solution it to meet the requirements of the battery technology used in the hearing aids and cochlear implants.”

Impressively enough, Cochlear also used Apple’s location technology to implement a ‘Find My Processor’ feature on its Nucleus Sound 7 processor. This makes it possible for one to find their misplaced implants using their iPhone.

While Apple has worked closely with Cochlear on developing the technology, the company will be licensing it for free to other qualified manufacturers.

[Via Wired]