New Hearing Aids Double As Headphones

In their steady march toward decrepitude, tech-savvy boomers will confront some weighty questions: Will my pension be enough to live on? What's up with rap music? Why can't I connect my BlackBerry to my hearing aid? Well, good news!

Stacked with the same bone conduction technology we've been seeing in Bluetooth headsets for some time now, along with wired and wireless device connectivity, a new class of hearing aids is making its way into patients' ears—or more accurately, their skulls. Bone conduction makes a big difference to hearing aids' core functionality, eliminating all manner of noise issues, but the heart of these new plugs is a powerful processing platform, with a gadgety twist:

[T] he newer processors, costing about $6000 (AUD) each, shut out background noise, giving users up to 25 per cent better hearing, and can be attached directly to MP3 music players or wireless headsets for talking on the phone

This makes a lot of sense—wearing earbuds or a Bluetooth headset on top of hearing aids would feel a little redundant, no? Anyway, as they are, the systems, made by Australian company Cochlear, aren't as cyborgian as you might imagine. The processor, with its headphone jack and wireless radio, isn't actually drilled into your head—that's just the cochlear implant—but instead worn around your ear, headset-style. The company's even got a range of "Freedom Accessories" which, let's be clear here, are consumer tech accessories meant to indirectly plug into your bone. It's a great time to be an old. [Sydney Morning Herald via Neatorama via BoingBoing]

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