MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Jim Watson will never forget the first time he saw the Rolling Stones in concert nearly thirty years ago.
That’s because in addition to the memories, the music has had a lasting effect on his hearing.
“Baby boomers getting older and rock ‘n’ roll, that’s a mix for hearing aids,” said Watson.
But these days there is a new twist on treating hearing loss.
“You have heard the term smart phones, well I call them smart hearing aids,” said audiologist Dr. Mont Stong.
Stong says wireless technology and faster processors have made hearing aids ‘smart’.
“It’s pretty much your own personal hearing system,” said Stong.
In the past, hearing aids were virtually one size fits all. Every sound registered at a similar level which, at times, made it difficult for the brain to process what the person was actually hearing.
That’s not the case with smart hearing aids.
“The phone is figuring out exactly where I am,” said Watson point to his cell phone.
A smart hearing aid can work with an iPhone app. Geo-tagging technology can even mark frequently visited spots and automatically adjust the noise level. Since the new hearing aids are Bluetooth enabled, they can even be paired to make a call.
The new technology, however, doesn’t come cheap. Outfitting both ears can cost $7,000 or more; an out-of-pocket cost some insurance companies don’t cover
Watson is hoping Silicon Valley innovation, and competition, will drive the prices down.
A big advantage of smart hearing aids is that the user can adjust the volume on the cell phones. That comes in handy when they are in loud places, like restaurants, because it doesn’t make it obvious that the person is wearing a hearing aid which relieves the stigma many people feel.