Apple working on preventative healthcare technology, CEO Cook reveals

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2020
Apple CEO Tim Cook on Monday said the company is investigating technology that could help identify health risks at an early stage, similar to heart monitoring features introduced with Apple Watch.

Cycle
Apple Watch's new Cycle app tracks menstrual cycles.


Cook commented on Apple's contributions to the healthcare space during a panel, suggesting what started with heart health tracking on Apple Watch could soon branch out into other areas of interest.

Current Apple Watch models are equipped with sensors capable to detecting atrial fibrillation, or AFib, a common heart arrhythmia that can lead to stroke in some patients. Apple Watch Series 4 and Series 5 go a step further and include an FDA-approved electrocardiogram function for more accurate readings.

As the first FDA-approved consumer device to incorporate an ECG, Apple Watch is an early entrant in what appears to be a burgeoning crossover sector that joins consumer tech with healthcare.

"I'm seeing that this intersection has not yet been explored very well. There's not a lot of tech associated with the way people's healthcare is done unless they get into very serious trouble."" Cook said in a Q&A session with IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan, according to Silicon Republic. IDA on Monday presented Cook with the inaugural Special Recognition Award for Apple's 40 years of investment in Ireland

Most Apple Watch heart monitoring features, like AFib detection, are inherently preventative and can potentially reduce healthcare fees or even save lives.

"I think you can take that simple idea of having preventive things and find many more areas where technology intersects healthcare, and I think all of our lives would probably be better off for it," Cook said. He added that the cost of healthcare can "fundamentally be taken down, probably in a dramatic way" by integrating common healthcare technologies in consumer devices.

"Most of the money in healthcare goes to the cases that weren't identified early enough," Cook said. "It will take some time but things that we are doing now -- that I'm not going to talk about today -- those give me a lot of cause for hope."

Apple is known to be at work on multiple health-focused initiatives, though none have been formally announced. A recent patent filing from December, for example, suggests the company is developing methods of using Apple Watch to detect Parkinson's Disease and diagnose tremor symptoms. Similar initiatives, like the sound monitoring Noise app and menstrual cycle tracking Cycle app, were announced and subsequently released with watchOS 6.

The Apple chief also touched on AR, once again calling it the "next big thing" in tech. Cook has long been bullish on the prospects of AR, which are being borne in iOS app releases.

"I think it's something that doesn't isolate people. We can use it to enhance our discussion, not substitute it for human connection, which I've always deeply worried about in some of the other technologies."
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,727member
    This is good.   But, although it is commonly called as such, this is not "prevention" he's talking about.   It's early detection.

    Apple Watch has been in true prevention from the very start -- by encouraging and supporting healthy lifestyles.
    And true prevention is where the money is.  A LOT of money.
    We spend $3.5 Trillion a year on health care (5 times the defense budget).  And, 80% of that goes to treat chronic, so called "age related" diseases.  But, the majority of those (heart disease, diabetes, many cancers, many dementias, etc.) could be prevented or very much delayed with the healthy lifestyles the Apple Watch helps to encourage and support.

    But, I know where Tim is coming from:  He gets the prevention mantra from our healthcare professionals who tend to think that only they can bestow health on a person.
    edited January 2020 airnerdmuthuk_vanalingamSpamSandwich
  • Reply 2 of 34
    I work for a big health insurance company. Last month our CIO mentioned a big deal/partnership that would be announced soon. It sounded like it was with a tech company. I wonder if it’s Apple. I only say that because Apple isn’t competing with us in any way. Amazon and Google are. Also we recently hired a former Apple executive to oversee our digital efforts.
    repressthis
  • Reply 3 of 34
    cg27cg27 Posts: 134member
    Early detection and prevention are the holy grail of medicine (short of perfect genetically engineered beings).

    And better still, even though the Apple Watch will continue to make remarkable gains in capability, it can never match the screen or camera of a phone, just as an iPhone can never monitor wrist vitals constantly, and thus the two shall always complement each other.  So iPhone and Watch and AirPods will continue to grow.

    Perhaps future AR glasses will be able to replace an iPhone, AppleWatch and AirPods, but I think not for a long while, and even then for most folks AR glasses will be overkill or not quite magical enough (I hope I’m wrong and Apple blows us away).  Which is fine, Apple will gladly offer options just as they do now in their product line.  
  • Reply 4 of 34
    cg27cg27 Posts: 134member
    And while Apple Watch now can alert you to noisy high decibel surroundings, I hope this is merely a baby step towards Apple offering...

    full fledged AirPod hearing aids,

    which I’ll call AirPodEars.

    Only Apple has the cachet to overnight rid the perceived stigma of wearing hearing aids (which prevents many folks from even considering them, let alone the high cost of purchase and battery replacements).

    Not only that, by virtue of Apple designing them they could actually be fashionable, just as eye glasses are.

    And coupled with AppleWatch and/or iPhone control, the AirPodEars would be far simpler, superior and cheaper to purchase and operate.

    Come on Apple, I’m sure this must be in development.
  • Reply 5 of 34
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,764member
    cg27 said:
    And while Apple Watch now can alert you to noisy high decibel surroundings, I hope this is merely a baby step towards Apple offering...

    full fledged AirPod hearing aids,

    which I’ll call AirPodEars.

    Only Apple has the cachet to overnight rid the perceived stigma of wearing hearing aids (which prevents many folks from even considering them, let alone the high cost of purchase and battery replacements).

    Not only that, by virtue of Apple designing them they could actually be fashionable, just as eye glasses are.

    And coupled with AppleWatch and/or iPhone control, the AirPodEars would be far simpler, superior and cheaper to purchase and operate.

    Come on Apple, I’m sure this must be in development.
    A friend has an iPhone app-controlled hearing aid. It is so small I didn’t even notice it until he pointed it out. That being said, I have zero expectation for Apple to build this first-party. Just like how they don’t build printers, scanners, or many other specialty accessories. 
  • Reply 6 of 34
    cg27cg27 Posts: 134member
    cg27 said:
    And while Apple Watch now can alert you to noisy high decibel surroundings, I hope this is merely a baby step towards Apple offering...

    full fledged AirPod hearing aids,

    which I’ll call AirPodEars.

    Only Apple has the cachet to overnight rid the perceived stigma of wearing hearing aids (which prevents many folks from even considering them, let alone the high cost of purchase and battery replacements).

    Not only that, by virtue of Apple designing them they could actually be fashionable, just as eye glasses are.

    And coupled with AppleWatch and/or iPhone control, the AirPodEars would be far simpler, superior and cheaper to purchase and operate.

    Come on Apple, I’m sure this must be in development.
    A friend has an iPhone app-controlled hearing aid. It is so small I didn’t even notice it until he pointed it out. That being said, I have zero expectation for Apple to build this first-party. Just like how they don’t build printers, scanners, or many other specialty accessories. 
    I don’t disagree that Apple hearing aids might seem too niche, however:

    + On average 10,000 Americans turn 65 EVERY day, and this baby boom generation will need plenty of hearing help

    + It bears repeating: Only Apple has the cachet to make hearing aids acceptable to the vast majority with no stigma, so much so that they wouldn’t need to be hidden or tiny but rather obvious like AirPods, thus allowing better and rechargeable battery life without the need for expensive battery replacements

    + Replacing $300 AirPodEars would be a lot cheaper than the $2000 or more aids cost now (each for the better ones)

    + In fact, if they look identical to AirPods or AirPod Pros, no one would know if they were regular AirPods or hearing enhancers.

    - The only negatives I can see for Apple is that the demographic tends to be older (thus generally less hip) and having lead the way with iPods and everyone blasting music in their ears Apple might be overly sensitive to being associated with helping cause the hearing loss in the first place

    + Apple could offer these readily.  Medical device approvals shouldn’t be that difficult with Apple’s R&D capability 

    + Apple would be admired for turning a major stigma inside out (from scourge to fashion statement, if one so chooses)

    razorpit
  • Reply 7 of 34
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    This is good.   But, although it is commonly called as such, this is not "prevention" he's talking about.   It's early detection.


    Early detection of high blood pressure can prevent a heart attack or a stroke.
    razorpit
  • Reply 8 of 34
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,727member
    Rayz2016 said:
    This is good.   But, although it is commonly called as such, this is not "prevention" he's talking about.   It's early detection.


    Early detection of high blood pressure can prevent a heart attack or a stroke.

    High Blood pressure is a disease in itself -- your arteries are diseased.   Detecting that you have a disease -- even though it can lead to other diseases -- is still "merely" detection.  (Which admittedly is better than nothing)

    It would be better though to prevent or reverse the original disease (hypertension) in the first place.   But your doctor will never, ever tell you to do it or how to do it -- he'll just order another pill that does nothing for the disease but instead artificially pumps up the diameter of your arteries and then pretends that it was inevitable and there was nothing you could do to prevent it (he may even actually believe that!).

    Our healthcare industry rakes in Trillions of dollars each year by forever treating the symptoms of chronic diseases without ever doing a thing to prevent them or treat the cause of them.   Instead it supplies you with a lifetime of pills & procedures that simply treat the symptoms -- like your blood pressure pill.

    As I said, the Apple Watch from its earliest days specialized in prevention.   Now Tim wants to add early detection.   Between the two, I'll take prevention every time.
  • Reply 9 of 34
    Sanctum1972Sanctum1972 Posts: 112unconfirmed, member
    cg27 said:
    cg27 said:
    And while Apple Watch now can alert you to noisy high decibel surroundings, I hope this is merely a baby step towards Apple offering...

    full fledged AirPod hearing aids,

    which I’ll call AirPodEars.

    Only Apple has the cachet to overnight rid the perceived stigma of wearing hearing aids (which prevents many folks from even considering them, let alone the high cost of purchase and battery replacements).

    Not only that, by virtue of Apple designing them they could actually be fashionable, just as eye glasses are.

    And coupled with AppleWatch and/or iPhone control, the AirPodEars would be far simpler, superior and cheaper to purchase and operate.

    Come on Apple, I’m sure this must be in development.
    A friend has an iPhone app-controlled hearing aid. It is so small I didn’t even notice it until he pointed it out. That being said, I have zero expectation for Apple to build this first-party. Just like how they don’t build printers, scanners, or many other specialty accessories. 
    I don’t disagree that Apple hearing aids might seem too niche, however:

    + On average 10,000 Americans turn 65 EVERY day, and this baby boom generation will need plenty of hearing help

    + It bears repeating: Only Apple has the cachet to make hearing aids acceptable to the vast majority with no stigma, so much so that they wouldn’t need to be hidden or tiny but rather obvious like AirPods, thus allowing better and rechargeable battery life without the need for expensive battery replacements

    + Replacing $300 AirPodEars would be a lot cheaper than the $2000 or more aids cost now (each for the better ones)

    + In fact, if they look identical to AirPods or AirPod Pros, no one would know if they were regular AirPods or hearing enhancers.

    - The only negatives I can see for Apple is that the demographic tends to be older (thus generally less hip) and having lead the way with iPods and everyone blasting music in their ears Apple might be overly sensitive to being associated with helping cause the hearing loss in the first place

    + Apple could offer these readily.  Medical device approvals shouldn’t be that difficult with Apple’s R&D capability 

    + Apple would be admired for turning a major stigma inside out (from scourge to fashion statement, if one so chooses)

    I'm born deaf myself with severe hearing loss on the left and profound on the right, wearing only one digital hearing aid on the left side. I've literally grown up with the HA with a box in a shirt pocket with wires  ( think headphones ) from the late 70s all the way to BTE ( behind the ear ) design and can say that digital hearing aids are now the standard. I loved the analog aids due to their bass and volume sound quality, not to mention that they were a lot cheaper in the range of $500-800, sometimes $1,200 for a pair at the most. However, they've been phased out mostly in favor of digital which has to be programmed by the audiologist. My current digital hearing aid is from Phonak and cost about $1,200. Just for one. Fortunately, insurance coverage was available and I have a very good audiologist. 

    Also, hearing aids are considered 'medical' devices that can be covered by insurance, or if one can afford to pay in cash/credit. An Apple designed hearing aid would require approval to be covered by insurance as a medical device. My problem is with the actual design of AirPods that go right into your ear canal in contrast to the BTE design which is a lot more stable and more powerful ( think Beats Pro headphones with ear hooks ).

    And you literally have to have a earmold cast for the hearing aid to fit into your ear properly. Also digital hearing aids that are controlled by an iPhone concerns me in that if you lose the phone, how do you control the HA? 

    Most importantly, for a hearing aid to work for the person with hearing loss, a hearing test must be done by an audiologist to determine the level of loss and which type of HA works best. Therefore, Apple's 'one size fits all' solution won't work. Consider this. Analog hearing aids are like amplifiers but they're designed to work with someone's specific hearing loss or deafness as they all differ for each person. Trust me, I've tried the 'in your ear' hearing aid years ago and it didn't sound good to me and that was because it wasn't powerful enough to provide 'oomph' and didn't match my hearing loss. This is why I cannot use the regular EarPods that came with the iPhone as they don't fit in my ear at all and have to rely on a HATIS headset that uses telecoil to block out the background noise entirely and only focuses on the audio ( shaped like a hook a wire straight to the headphone jack  or adapter ) or use a bluetooth receiver with an 8 hour battery with a neck loop that can stream music or audio ( ie. movies, video calls, etc ) straight from any iOS device or PC. I got the receiver from the audiologist which usually costs over $100. 

    Cochlear implants, OTOH, are a huge issue right now with the deaf community as an ongoing debate ( which has been viewed for years as a method of identity eugenics of sorts ) and mega expensive which I've heard horror stories about. I've seen the effects of it from a very old classmate I grew up with years ago and felt bad for him when he couldn't hear for two weeks post surgery, waiting to get proper activation. 

    So in short, if you have vision needs ( ie. astigmatism or such ) with glasses, you go to an eye care professional for this. Same thing goes for hearing loss/deafness. I don't see Apple having the ability to design a hearing aid in an AirPod style design. 

    And lastly, I do NOT see a practical use for AR goggles to replace the phone for the deaf or hard of hearing. Not one bit. Consider the fact that every deaf person I've known relies completely on texting or video calls to communicate. With AR goggles, it would not solve a long distance phone call as they cannot see each other. You need a camera so that they can see each other's sign language 'face to face'. Even if they're in public, I've heard stories how some have used special iOS live transcription apps to capture conversations in public to communicate. I use app such as Sign or Cardzilla where one types in large text and flashes the message across the room as you hold up the phone, especially handy in noisy environments like nightclubs or such. It works every time.

    Plus, they have certain criteria when you use sign language on screen by wearing dark clothing so that the hands can be seen by contrast, especially if they're using a VRS ( video relay service ) who have call operators on screen to follow strict ASL protocol. I don't sign much as I was originally taught to speak orally in an audist program as ASL wasn't allowed at the time but these days, I'm still learning some of them to catch up and use in case of an emergency. 

    But I would love Apple to build a small bluetooth device that clips on a shirt or stays tucked in clothing as a method to stream iOS music/audio to your hearing aid. There was a outdoor company ( this is the firm: https://www.outdoortechnology.com/ ) that made a rechargeable dongle with a clip and had an iPod like wheel with audio controls but with a headphone jack. Because where I live in New England, products like these are popular for outdoor activities. All you had to do was clip it to your belt or shirt and jack the old school headphones to it and walk around the house listening to music. This product came around around 2011-2012 ( I think) long before AirPods were a thing. And even if I'm driving, wind noise from the car door ( usually with closed windows ) usually masks my voice and I can't always raise Siri to access the map and I've wished there was a small bluetooth microphone to clip to my jacket so I don't have to scream for Siri.

    NOTE: by the way, there are some hearing aids that are rechargeable but aren't cheap and most commonly require a battery which you can buy online or at a store, or audiologist. I use a size 675 for this and get huge packs from Amazon from a German company which is cheaper than what you get in the store. 

    2nd NOTE: I want to mention that a local AR player on Ingress for iOS crossed my path a few times and once I met him in person, he had an in the ear headset for his phone to make calls. I noticed that he kept it in his ear the whole time and he mentioned that he uses it to 'pick up' the conversation with his phone that's set on the table or in front of people. I suggested he talk to an audiologist due to his hearing loss and see if he can get insurance to get a new hearing aid without relying on the headset but I haven't seen him in over a year or so. The point is that headsets such as AirPods are NOT a replacement for hearing aids. 
    edited January 2020 radarthekatmuthuk_vanalingamdtb200
  • Reply 10 of 34
    How about body temp and ambient temp so heat stroke or fever are detected.
    razorpit
  • Reply 11 of 34
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    BigDann said:
    How about body temp and ambient temp so heat stroke or fever are detected.
    I was betting this was going to be a Series 5 thing.

    This function is also important for tracking quality of sleep. Hopefully it will be a Series 6 thing. Holding on to my 3 until then.
  • Reply 12 of 34
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,727member
    BigDann said:
    How about body temp and ambient temp so heat stroke or fever are detected.

    That would be very helpful for endurance athletes.   The last year I worked the medical team of the Pittsburgh Marathon we had a dozen people with body temps over 110 degrees -- which is life threatening.   It would be better if they could monitor it rather than waiting for a physician to determine it after they collapse.
  • Reply 13 of 34
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,727member
    cg27 said:
    cg27 said:
    And while Apple Watch now can alert you to noisy high decibel surroundings, I hope this is merely a baby step towards Apple offering...

    full fledged AirPod hearing aids,

    which I’ll call AirPodEars.

    Only Apple has the cachet to overnight rid the perceived stigma of wearing hearing aids (which prevents many folks from even considering them, let alone the high cost of purchase and battery replacements).

    Not only that, by virtue of Apple designing them they could actually be fashionable, just as eye glasses are.

    And coupled with AppleWatch and/or iPhone control, the AirPodEars would be far simpler, superior and cheaper to purchase and operate.

    Come on Apple, I’m sure this must be in development.
    A friend has an iPhone app-controlled hearing aid. It is so small I didn’t even notice it until he pointed it out. That being said, I have zero expectation for Apple to build this first-party. Just like how they don’t build printers, scanners, or many other specialty accessories. 
    I don’t disagree that Apple hearing aids might seem too niche, however:

    + On average 10,000 Americans turn 65 EVERY day, and this baby boom generation will need plenty of hearing help

    + It bears repeating: Only Apple has the cachet to make hearing aids acceptable to the vast majority with no stigma, so much so that they wouldn’t need to be hidden or tiny but rather obvious like AirPods, thus allowing better and rechargeable battery life without the need for expensive battery replacements

    + Replacing $300 AirPodEars would be a lot cheaper than the $2000 or more aids cost now (each for the better ones)

    + In fact, if they look identical to AirPods or AirPod Pros, no one would know if they were regular AirPods or hearing enhancers.

    - The only negatives I can see for Apple is that the demographic tends to be older (thus generally less hip) and having lead the way with iPods and everyone blasting music in their ears Apple might be overly sensitive to being associated with helping cause the hearing loss in the first place

    + Apple could offer these readily.  Medical device approvals shouldn’t be that difficult with Apple’s R&D capability 

    + Apple would be admired for turning a major stigma inside out (from scourge to fashion statement, if one so chooses)

    I'm born deaf myself with severe hearing loss on the left and profound on the right, wearing only one digital hearing aid on the left side. I've literally grown up with the HA with a box in a shirt pocket with wires  ( think headphones ) from the late 70s all the way to BTE ( behind the ear ) design and can say that digital hearing aids are now the standard. I loved the analog aids due to their bass and volume sound quality, not to mention that they were a lot cheaper in the range of $500-800, sometimes $1,200 for a pair at the most. However, they've been phased out mostly in favor of digital which has to be programmed by the audiologist. My current digital hearing aid is from Phonak and cost about $1,200. Just for one. Fortunately, insurance coverage was available and I have a very good audiologist. 

    Also, hearing aids are considered 'medical' devices that can be covered by insurance, or if one can afford to pay in cash/credit. An Apple designed hearing aid would require approval to be covered by insurance as a medical device. My problem is with the actual design of AirPods that go right into your ear canal in contrast to the BTE design which is a lot more stable and more powerful ( think Beats Pro headphones with ear hooks ).

    And you literally have to have a earmold cast for the hearing aid to fit into your ear properly. Also digital hearing aids that are controlled by an iPhone concerns me in that if you lose the phone, how do you control the HA? 

    Most importantly, for a hearing aid to work for the person with hearing loss, a hearing test must be done by an audiologist to determine the level of loss and which type of HA works best. Therefore, Apple's 'one size fits all' solution won't work. Consider this. Analog hearing aids are like amplifiers but they're designed to work with someone's specific hearing loss or deafness as they all differ for each person. Trust me, I've tried the 'in your ear' hearing aid years ago and it didn't sound good to me and that was because it wasn't powerful enough to provide 'oomph' and didn't match my hearing loss. This is why I cannot use the regular EarPods that came with the iPhone as they don't fit in my ear at all and have to rely on a HATIS headset that uses telecoil to block out the background noise entirely and only focuses on the audio ( shaped like a hook a wire straight to the headphone jack  or adapter ) or use a bluetooth receiver with an 8 hour battery with a neck loop that can stream music or audio ( ie. movies, video calls, etc ) straight from any iOS device or PC. I got the receiver from the audiologist which usually costs over $100. 

    Cochlear implants, OTOH, are a huge issue right now with the deaf community as an ongoing debate ( which has been viewed for years as a method of identity eugenics of sorts ) and mega expensive which I've heard horror stories about. I've seen the effects of it from a very old classmate I grew up with years ago and felt bad for him when he couldn't hear for two weeks post surgery, waiting to get proper activation. 

    So in short, if you have vision needs ( ie. astigmatism or such ) with glasses, you go to an eye care professional for this. Same thing goes for hearing loss/deafness. I don't see Apple having the ability to design a hearing aid in an AirPod style design. 

    And lastly, I do NOT see a practical use for AR goggles to replace the phone for the deaf or hard of hearing. Not one bit. Consider the fact that every deaf person I've known relies completely on texting or video calls to communicate. With AR goggles, it would not solve a long distance phone call as they cannot see each other. You need a camera so that they can see each other's sign language 'face to face'. Even if they're in public, I've heard stories how some have used special iOS live transcription apps to capture conversations in public to communicate. I use app such as Sign or Cardzilla where one types in large text and flashes the message across the room as you hold up the phone, especially handy in noisy environments like nightclubs or such. It works every time.

    Plus, they have certain criteria when you use sign language on screen by wearing dark clothing so that the hands can be seen by contrast, especially if they're using a VRS ( video relay service ) who have call operators on screen to follow strict ASL protocol. I don't sign much as I was originally taught to speak orally in an audist program as ASL wasn't allowed at the time but these days, I'm still learning some of them to catch up and use in case of an emergency. 

    But I would love Apple to build a small bluetooth device that clips on a shirt or stays tucked in clothing as a method to stream iOS music/audio to your hearing aid. There was a outdoor company ( this is the firm: https://www.outdoortechnology.com/ ) that made a rechargeable dongle with a clip and had an iPod like wheel with audio controls but with a headphone jack. Because where I live in New England, products like these are popular for outdoor activities. All you had to do was clip it to your belt or shirt and jack the old school headphones to it and walk around the house listening to music. This product came around around 2011-2012 ( I think) long before AirPods were a thing. And even if I'm driving, wind noise from the car door ( usually with closed windows ) usually masks my voice and I can't always raise Siri to access the map and I've wished there was a small bluetooth microphone to clip to my jacket so I don't have to scream for Siri.

    NOTE: by the way, there are some hearing aids that are rechargeable but aren't cheap and most commonly require a battery which you can buy online or at a store, or audiologist. I use a size 675 for this and get huge packs from Amazon from a German company which is cheaper than what you get in the store. 

    2nd NOTE: I want to mention that a local AR player on Ingress for iOS crossed my path a few times and once I met him in person, he had an in the ear headset for his phone to make calls. I noticed that he kept it in his ear the whole time and he mentioned that he uses it to 'pick up' the conversation with his phone that's set on the table or in front of people. I suggested he talk to an audiologist due to his hearing loss and see if he can get insurance to get a new hearing aid without relying on the headset but I haven't seen him in over a year or so. The point is that headsets such as AirPods are NOT a replacement for hearing aids. 

    Most people requiring hearing aid assistance are on Medicare -- but traditional Medicare does not cover hearing aids.  Some Medicare Advantage plans may, but then your're dealing with all the issues associated with private insurance.

    Also, it is slowly coming out that many simply need a sound amplifier rather than all the filters and such medical people specialize in. 

    Unfortunately, the hearing industry, like the vision industry, has been overwhelmed with exorbitantly priced medicalization that many simply cannot afford.  Fortunately those cartels are being challenged by over-the-counter type solutions like Airpods.   Or, this summer I was able to prescribe and order a new pair of glasses for myself at less than a third the cost it would have cost me had I used the traditional medical structure.  Basically I saved $400-$500 and ended up with what I think are a better pair of glasses than I would have had from an optician.  (The last 2 prescriptions I got from eye doctors were way off the mark)

    I think it is good that the medicalized hearing and vision structures are beginning to be limited to those who need that high level of care.    
  • Reply 14 of 34
    cg27cg27 Posts: 134member
    cg27 said:
    cg27 said:
    And while Apple Watch now can alert you to noisy high decibel surroundings, I hope this is merely a baby step towards Apple offering...

    full fledged AirPod hearing aids,

    which I’ll call AirPodEars.

    Only Apple has the cachet to overnight rid the perceived stigma of wearing hearing aids (which prevents many folks from even considering them, let alone the high cost of purchase and battery replacements).

    Not only that, by virtue of Apple designing them they could actually be fashionable, just as eye glasses are.

    And coupled with AppleWatch and/or iPhone control, the AirPodEars would be far simpler, superior and cheaper to purchase and operate.

    Come on Apple, I’m sure this must be in development.
    A friend has an iPhone app-controlled hearing aid. It is so small I didn’t even notice it until he pointed it out. That being said, I have zero expectation for Apple to build this first-party. Just like how they don’t build printers, scanners, or many other specialty accessories. 
    I don’t disagree that Apple hearing aids might seem too niche, however:

    + On average 10,000 Americans turn 65 EVERY day, and this baby boom generation will need plenty of hearing help

    + It bears repeating: Only Apple has the cachet to make hearing aids acceptable to the vast majority with no stigma, so much so that they wouldn’t need to be hidden or tiny but rather obvious like AirPods, thus allowing better and rechargeable battery life without the need for expensive battery replacements

    + Replacing $300 AirPodEars would be a lot cheaper than the $2000 or more aids cost now (each for the better ones)

    + In fact, if they look identical to AirPods or AirPod Pros, no one would know if they were regular AirPods or hearing enhancers.

    - The only negatives I can see for Apple is that the demographic tends to be older (thus generally less hip) and having lead the way with iPods and everyone blasting music in their ears Apple might be overly sensitive to being associated with helping cause the hearing loss in the first place

    + Apple could offer these readily.  Medical device approvals shouldn’t be that difficult with Apple’s R&D capability 

    + Apple would be admired for turning a major stigma inside out (from scourge to fashion statement, if one so chooses)

    I'm born deaf myself with severe hearing loss on the left and profound on the right, wearing only one digital hearing aid on the left side. I've literally grown up with the HA with a box in a shirt pocket with wires  ( think headphones ) from the late 70s all the way to BTE ( behind the ear ) design and can say that digital hearing aids are now the standard. I loved the analog aids due to their bass and volume sound quality, not to mention that they were a lot cheaper in the range of $500-800, sometimes $1,200 for a pair at the most. However, they've been phased out mostly in favor of digital which has to be programmed by the audiologist. My current digital hearing aid is from Phonak and cost about $1,200. Just for one. Fortunately, insurance coverage was available and I have a very good audiologist. 

    Also, hearing aids are considered 'medical' devices that can be covered by insurance, or if one can afford to pay in cash/credit. An Apple designed hearing aid would require approval to be covered by insurance as a medical device. My problem is with the actual design of AirPods that go right into your ear canal in contrast to the BTE design which is a lot more stable and more powerful ( think Beats Pro headphones with ear hooks ).

    And you literally have to have a earmold cast for the hearing aid to fit into your ear properly. Also digital hearing aids that are controlled by an iPhone concerns me in that if you lose the phone, how do you control the HA? 

    Most importantly, for a hearing aid to work for the person with hearing loss, a hearing test must be done by an audiologist to determine the level of loss and which type of HA works best. Therefore, Apple's 'one size fits all' solution won't work. Consider this. Analog hearing aids are like amplifiers but they're designed to work with someone's specific hearing loss or deafness as they all differ for each person. Trust me, I've tried the 'in your ear' hearing aid years ago and it didn't sound good to me and that was because it wasn't powerful enough to provide 'oomph' and didn't match my hearing loss. This is why I cannot use the regular EarPods that came with the iPhone as they don't fit in my ear at all and have to rely on a HATIS headset that uses telecoil to block out the background noise entirely and only focuses on the audio ( shaped like a hook a wire straight to the headphone jack  or adapter ) or use a bluetooth receiver with an 8 hour battery with a neck loop that can stream music or audio ( ie. movies, video calls, etc ) straight from any iOS device or PC. I got the receiver from the audiologist which usually costs over $100. 

    Cochlear implants, OTOH, are a huge issue right now with the deaf community as an ongoing debate ( which has been viewed for years as a method of identity eugenics of sorts ) and mega expensive which I've heard horror stories about. I've seen the effects of it from a very old classmate I grew up with years ago and felt bad for him when he couldn't hear for two weeks post surgery, waiting to get proper activation. 

    So in short, if you have vision needs ( ie. astigmatism or such ) with glasses, you go to an eye care professional for this. Same thing goes for hearing loss/deafness. I don't see Apple having the ability to design a hearing aid in an AirPod style design. 

    And lastly, I do NOT see a practical use for AR goggles to replace the phone for the deaf or hard of hearing. Not one bit. Consider the fact that every deaf person I've known relies completely on texting or video calls to communicate. With AR goggles, it would not solve a long distance phone call as they cannot see each other. You need a camera so that they can see each other's sign language 'face to face'. Even if they're in public, I've heard stories how some have used special iOS live transcription apps to capture conversations in public to communicate. I use app such as Sign or Cardzilla where one types in large text and flashes the message across the room as you hold up the phone, especially handy in noisy environments like nightclubs or such. It works every time.

    Plus, they have certain criteria when you use sign language on screen by wearing dark clothing so that the hands can be seen by contrast, especially if they're using a VRS ( video relay service ) who have call operators on screen to follow strict ASL protocol. I don't sign much as I was originally taught to speak orally in an audist program as ASL wasn't allowed at the time but these days, I'm still learning some of them to catch up and use in case of an emergency. 

    But I would love Apple to build a small bluetooth device that clips on a shirt or stays tucked in clothing as a method to stream iOS music/audio to your hearing aid. There was a outdoor company ( this is the firm: https://www.outdoortechnology.com/ ) that made a rechargeable dongle with a clip and had an iPod like wheel with audio controls but with a headphone jack. Because where I live in New England, products like these are popular for outdoor activities. All you had to do was clip it to your belt or shirt and jack the old school headphones to it and walk around the house listening to music. This product came around around 2011-2012 ( I think) long before AirPods were a thing. And even if I'm driving, wind noise from the car door ( usually with closed windows ) usually masks my voice and I can't always raise Siri to access the map and I've wished there was a small bluetooth microphone to clip to my jacket so I don't have to scream for Siri.

    NOTE: by the way, there are some hearing aids that are rechargeable but aren't cheap and most commonly require a battery which you can buy online or at a store, or audiologist. I use a size 675 for this and get huge packs from Amazon from a German company which is cheaper than what you get in the store. 

    2nd NOTE: I want to mention that a local AR player on Ingress for iOS crossed my path a few times and once I met him in person, he had an in the ear headset for his phone to make calls. I noticed that he kept it in his ear the whole time and he mentioned that he uses it to 'pick up' the conversation with his phone that's set on the table or in front of people. I suggested he talk to an audiologist due to his hearing loss and see if he can get insurance to get a new hearing aid without relying on the headset but I haven't seen him in over a year or so. The point is that headsets such as AirPods are NOT a replacement for hearing aids. 

    Most people requiring hearing aid assistance are on Medicare -- but traditional Medicare does not cover hearing aids.  Some Medicare Advantage plans may, but then your're dealing with all the issues associated with private insurance.

    Also, it is slowly coming out that many simply need a sound amplifier rather than all the filters and such medical people specialize in. 

    Unfortunately, the hearing industry, like the vision industry, has been overwhelmed with exorbitantly priced medicalization that many simply cannot afford.  Fortunately those cartels are being challenged by over-the-counter type solutions like Airpods.   Or, this summer I was able to prescribe and order a new pair of glasses for myself at less than a third the cost it would have cost me had I used the traditional medical structure.  Basically I saved $400-$500 and ended up with what I think are a better pair of glasses than I would have had from an optician.  (The last 2 prescriptions I got from eye doctors were way off the mark)

    I think it is good that the medicalized hearing and vision structures are beginning to be limited to those who need that high level of care.    
    First, thank you Sanctum Joe for sharing your personal experience in detail.  It truly helps shed light on some of the challenges.  

    I think for the vast majority of folks who suffer from hearing loss (whether they realize/admit it or not) an AirPod-like or behind the ear Beats-like solution would be very effective, simple to operate, inexpensive and highly tunable and adaptive given the environment one is in, especially when the microphones on the iPhone and AppleWatch help determine the settings needed automatically.  In fact, the iPhone and/or AppleWatch could do the brunt of the listening and processing, then send the signal to the AirPods, thus conserving the AirPod batteries; and most would probably have a spare set of AirPodEars in the charging case, ready to swap when needed.  Not sure what the latency issues would be, but I don’t think this would be noticeable.

    So presto, stigma gone, fashion item if one desires rather than trying to hide it, easy to operate, inexpensive.  All in one fell swoop.

    If I were in the hearing aid industry I’d be quaking in my boots after seeing what AppleWatch has done to the overall watch industry.

  • Reply 15 of 34
    cg27cg27 Posts: 134member
    And the AirPodEars would NOT need an appointment with a doctor to purchase, one would buy them just as they would any AirPod. The AirPodEars app would conduct a hearing test and based on the answers provided tailor the frequency filtering and amplification profile accordingly.  As time goes on and the user makes on the fly adjustments the app will learn and automatically adjust the user profile, so the AirPodEars actually become more effective.

    So just as GeorgeBMac indicated regarding bypassing the traditional eyeglass purchase route, same could be done for hearing aids.

    Apple has the ability, clout and trust to pull this off properly.
  • Reply 16 of 34
    cg27cg27 Posts: 134member
    And the current AirPods could likely do a very good job as a hearing aid, all that would be needed is the app to create the profile and to coordinate the iPhone and AppleWatch as listening/processing devices.

    The beauty of the AppleWatch is that the crown would serve as the intuitive up/down volume control where the user doesn’t even have to look at the Watch, and thus not take their eyes off whom they’re listening to.  This is especially  helpful since many hard of hearing people are lip readers, whether they realize it or not.

    This means that Apple doesn’t necessarily need to have a unique hearing aid device, just an app.  So everyone with AirPods would have the ability to hear better.  Kind of like Live Listen, but much better.
  • Reply 17 of 34
    Sanctum1972Sanctum1972 Posts: 112unconfirmed, member
    cg27 said:
    cg27 said:
    And while Apple Watch now can alert you to noisy high decibel surroundings, I hope this is merely a baby step towards Apple offering...

    full fledged AirPod hearing aids,

    which I’ll call AirPodEars.

    Only Apple has the cachet to overnight rid the perceived stigma of wearing hearing aids (which prevents many folks from even considering them, let alone the high cost of purchase and battery replacements).

    Not only that, by virtue of Apple designing them they could actually be fashionable, just as eye glasses are.

    And coupled with AppleWatch and/or iPhone control, the AirPodEars would be far simpler, superior and cheaper to purchase and operate.

    Come on Apple, I’m sure this must be in development.
    A friend has an iPhone app-controlled hearing aid. It is so small I didn’t even notice it until he pointed it out. That being said, I have zero expectation for Apple to build this first-party. Just like how they don’t build printers, scanners, or many other specialty accessories. 
    I don’t disagree that Apple hearing aids might seem too niche, however:

    + On average 10,000 Americans turn 65 EVERY day, and this baby boom generation will need plenty of hearing help

    + It bears repeating: Only Apple has the cachet to make hearing aids acceptable to the vast majority with no stigma, so much so that they wouldn’t need to be hidden or tiny but rather obvious like AirPods, thus allowing better and rechargeable battery life without the need for expensive battery replacements

    + Replacing $300 AirPodEars would be a lot cheaper than the $2000 or more aids cost now (each for the better ones)

    + In fact, if they look identical to AirPods or AirPod Pros, no one would know if they were regular AirPods or hearing enhancers.

    - The only negatives I can see for Apple is that the demographic tends to be older (thus generally less hip) and having lead the way with iPods and everyone blasting music in their ears Apple might be overly sensitive to being associated with helping cause the hearing loss in the first place

    + Apple could offer these readily.  Medical device approvals shouldn’t be that difficult with Apple’s R&D capability 

    + Apple would be admired for turning a major stigma inside out (from scourge to fashion statement, if one so chooses)

    I'm born deaf myself with severe hearing loss on the left and profound on the right, wearing only one digital hearing aid on the left side. I've literally grown up with the HA with a box in a shirt pocket with wires  ( think headphones ) from the late 70s all the way to BTE ( behind the ear ) design and can say that digital hearing aids are now the standard. I loved the analog aids due to their bass and volume sound quality, not to mention that they were a lot cheaper in the range of $500-800, sometimes $1,200 for a pair at the most. However, they've been phased out mostly in favor of digital which has to be programmed by the audiologist. My current digital hearing aid is from Phonak and cost about $1,200. Just for one. Fortunately, insurance coverage was available and I have a very good audiologist. 

    Also, hearing aids are considered 'medical' devices that can be covered by insurance, or if one can afford to pay in cash/credit. An Apple designed hearing aid would require approval to be covered by insurance as a medical device. My problem is with the actual design of AirPods that go right into your ear canal in contrast to the BTE design which is a lot more stable and more powerful ( think Beats Pro headphones with ear hooks ).

    And you literally have to have a earmold cast for the hearing aid to fit into your ear properly. Also digital hearing aids that are controlled by an iPhone concerns me in that if you lose the phone, how do you control the HA? 

    Most importantly, for a hearing aid to work for the person with hearing loss, a hearing test must be done by an audiologist to determine the level of loss and which type of HA works best. Therefore, Apple's 'one size fits all' solution won't work. Consider this. Analog hearing aids are like amplifiers but they're designed to work with someone's specific hearing loss or deafness as they all differ for each person. Trust me, I've tried the 'in your ear' hearing aid years ago and it didn't sound good to me and that was because it wasn't powerful enough to provide 'oomph' and didn't match my hearing loss. This is why I cannot use the regular EarPods that came with the iPhone as they don't fit in my ear at all and have to rely on a HATIS headset that uses telecoil to block out the background noise entirely and only focuses on the audio ( shaped like a hook a wire straight to the headphone jack  or adapter ) or use a bluetooth receiver with an 8 hour battery with a neck loop that can stream music or audio ( ie. movies, video calls, etc ) straight from any iOS device or PC. I got the receiver from the audiologist which usually costs over $100. 

    Cochlear implants, OTOH, are a huge issue right now with the deaf community as an ongoing debate ( which has been viewed for years as a method of identity eugenics of sorts ) and mega expensive which I've heard horror stories about. I've seen the effects of it from a very old classmate I grew up with years ago and felt bad for him when he couldn't hear for two weeks post surgery, waiting to get proper activation. 

    So in short, if you have vision needs ( ie. astigmatism or such ) with glasses, you go to an eye care professional for this. Same thing goes for hearing loss/deafness. I don't see Apple having the ability to design a hearing aid in an AirPod style design. 

    And lastly, I do NOT see a practical use for AR goggles to replace the phone for the deaf or hard of hearing. Not one bit. Consider the fact that every deaf person I've known relies completely on texting or video calls to communicate. With AR goggles, it would not solve a long distance phone call as they cannot see each other. You need a camera so that they can see each other's sign language 'face to face'. Even if they're in public, I've heard stories how some have used special iOS live transcription apps to capture conversations in public to communicate. I use app such as Sign or Cardzilla where one types in large text and flashes the message across the room as you hold up the phone, especially handy in noisy environments like nightclubs or such. It works every time.

    Plus, they have certain criteria when you use sign language on screen by wearing dark clothing so that the hands can be seen by contrast, especially if they're using a VRS ( video relay service ) who have call operators on screen to follow strict ASL protocol. I don't sign much as I was originally taught to speak orally in an audist program as ASL wasn't allowed at the time but these days, I'm still learning some of them to catch up and use in case of an emergency. 

    But I would love Apple to build a small bluetooth device that clips on a shirt or stays tucked in clothing as a method to stream iOS music/audio to your hearing aid. There was a outdoor company ( this is the firm: https://www.outdoortechnology.com/ ) that made a rechargeable dongle with a clip and had an iPod like wheel with audio controls but with a headphone jack. Because where I live in New England, products like these are popular for outdoor activities. All you had to do was clip it to your belt or shirt and jack the old school headphones to it and walk around the house listening to music. This product came around around 2011-2012 ( I think) long before AirPods were a thing. And even if I'm driving, wind noise from the car door ( usually with closed windows ) usually masks my voice and I can't always raise Siri to access the map and I've wished there was a small bluetooth microphone to clip to my jacket so I don't have to scream for Siri.

    NOTE: by the way, there are some hearing aids that are rechargeable but aren't cheap and most commonly require a battery which you can buy online or at a store, or audiologist. I use a size 675 for this and get huge packs from Amazon from a German company which is cheaper than what you get in the store. 

    2nd NOTE: I want to mention that a local AR player on Ingress for iOS crossed my path a few times and once I met him in person, he had an in the ear headset for his phone to make calls. I noticed that he kept it in his ear the whole time and he mentioned that he uses it to 'pick up' the conversation with his phone that's set on the table or in front of people. I suggested he talk to an audiologist due to his hearing loss and see if he can get insurance to get a new hearing aid without relying on the headset but I haven't seen him in over a year or so. The point is that headsets such as AirPods are NOT a replacement for hearing aids. 

    Most people requiring hearing aid assistance are on Medicare -- but traditional Medicare does not cover hearing aids.  Some Medicare Advantage plans may, but then your're dealing with all the issues associated with private insurance.

    Also, it is slowly coming out that many simply need a sound amplifier rather than all the filters and such medical people specialize in. 

    Unfortunately, the hearing industry, like the vision industry, has been overwhelmed with exorbitantly priced medicalization that many simply cannot afford.  Fortunately those cartels are being challenged by over-the-counter type solutions like Airpods.   Or, this summer I was able to prescribe and order a new pair of glasses for myself at less than a third the cost it would have cost me had I used the traditional medical structure.  Basically I saved $400-$500 and ended up with what I think are a better pair of glasses than I would have had from an optician.  (The last 2 prescriptions I got from eye doctors were way off the mark)

    I think it is good that the medicalized hearing and vision structures are beginning to be limited to those who need that high level of care.    
    Some of the Medicare plans may cover them, even Medicaid from the state. I think it's a state by state basis, however in my state a local organization is trying to push for support on a bill that requires hearing aid insurance coverage so people can benefit from that assistance. For those who are hard of hearing or experiencing hearing loss, some form of amplification is helpful unless it becomes profound to the point that a specialist is required as a last resort. 

    In regards to vision care, no doubt about that. Glasses are not cheap and I've had one that was almost $350 back in 2011. I got a new one that was about $60 back in 2017 which wasn't bad and now I've a new prescription just for the lenses. So in that sense, I plan to go back to the original frames which were better built but only for the lenses to be replaced and hoping a new insurance plan will cover it via Medicare. I've thought about using the Warby Parker app to do it. 

    I'm old school and prefer a hearing aid that has a BTE design which is more stable with an earmold compared to a counterpart such as an AirPod which people, from what I'm hearing, keep losing. Even someone posted in a local bulletin board in my town had found a lost AirPod to alert the public. I think an amplifier would only go so far for the hard of hearing demographic while for the deaf who require a hearing aid or cochlear implant, the situation would be different. And that means the AirPods would have to go through some industrial design changes for that to work since they still look like headphones. 

    For me, there is no stigma because I'm used to it and whether people notice my hearing aid doesn't matter much. In winter, it's pretty much covered up with my hat but in warmer seasons, it's there. So I'm mainly responsible for letting people know I need to see what they're saying as I read lips. On the other hand, when it comes to communicating with deaf people, I just switch to sign language mode if needed. I've known some deaf people who don't even wear hearing aids and prefer to just move on with their lives without an audiologist and just sign. Nothing wrong with that, either. 

    So in a sense, it appears to be the mainstreamed demographic that has a form of hearing loss and needing an amplifier and the other requiring an audiologist to get fitted for the hearing aid and ear mold. Cochlear implantation, from my understanding, takes some adjusting to the sound and going through some form of speech therapy with a specialist if it gets to that point. 
  • Reply 18 of 34
    Sanctum1972Sanctum1972 Posts: 112unconfirmed, member
    cg27 said:
    cg27 said:
    cg27 said:
    And while Apple Watch now can alert you to noisy high decibel surroundings, I hope this is merely a baby step towards Apple offering...

    full fledged AirPod hearing aids,

    which I’ll call AirPodEars.

    Only Apple has the cachet to overnight rid the perceived stigma of wearing hearing aids (which prevents many folks from even considering them, let alone the high cost of purchase and battery replacements).

    Not only that, by virtue of Apple designing them they could actually be fashionable, just as eye glasses are.

    And coupled with AppleWatch and/or iPhone control, the AirPodEars would be far simpler, superior and cheaper to purchase and operate.

    Come on Apple, I’m sure this must be in development.
    A friend has an iPhone app-controlled hearing aid. It is so small I didn’t even notice it until he pointed it out. That being said, I have zero expectation for Apple to build this first-party. Just like how they don’t build printers, scanners, or many other specialty accessories. 
    I don’t disagree that Apple hearing aids might seem too niche, however:

    + On average 10,000 Americans turn 65 EVERY day, and this baby boom generation will need plenty of hearing help

    + It bears repeating: Only Apple has the cachet to make hearing aids acceptable to the vast majority with no stigma, so much so that they wouldn’t need to be hidden or tiny but rather obvious like AirPods, thus allowing better and rechargeable battery life without the need for expensive battery replacements

    + Replacing $300 AirPodEars would be a lot cheaper than the $2000 or more aids cost now (each for the better ones)

    + In fact, if they look identical to AirPods or AirPod Pros, no one would know if they were regular AirPods or hearing enhancers.

    - The only negatives I can see for Apple is that the demographic tends to be older (thus generally less hip) and having lead the way with iPods and everyone blasting music in their ears Apple might be overly sensitive to being associated with helping cause the hearing loss in the first place

    + Apple could offer these readily.  Medical device approvals shouldn’t be that difficult with Apple’s R&D capability 

    + Apple would be admired for turning a major stigma inside out (from scourge to fashion statement, if one so chooses)

    I'm born deaf myself with severe hearing loss on the left and profound on the right, wearing only one digital hearing aid on the left side. I've literally grown up with the HA with a box in a shirt pocket with wires  ( think headphones ) from the late 70s all the way to BTE ( behind the ear ) design and can say that digital hearing aids are now the standard. I loved the analog aids due to their bass and volume sound quality, not to mention that they were a lot cheaper in the range of $500-800, sometimes $1,200 for a pair at the most. However, they've been phased out mostly in favor of digital which has to be programmed by the audiologist. My current digital hearing aid is from Phonak and cost about $1,200. Just for one. Fortunately, insurance coverage was available and I have a very good audiologist. 

    Also, hearing aids are considered 'medical' devices that can be covered by insurance, or if one can afford to pay in cash/credit. An Apple designed hearing aid would require approval to be covered by insurance as a medical device. My problem is with the actual design of AirPods that go right into your ear canal in contrast to the BTE design which is a lot more stable and more powerful ( think Beats Pro headphones with ear hooks ).

    And you literally have to have a earmold cast for the hearing aid to fit into your ear properly. Also digital hearing aids that are controlled by an iPhone concerns me in that if you lose the phone, how do you control the HA? 

    Most importantly, for a hearing aid to work for the person with hearing loss, a hearing test must be done by an audiologist to determine the level of loss and which type of HA works best. Therefore, Apple's 'one size fits all' solution won't work. Consider this. Analog hearing aids are like amplifiers but they're designed to work with someone's specific hearing loss or deafness as they all differ for each person. Trust me, I've tried the 'in your ear' hearing aid years ago and it didn't sound good to me and that was because it wasn't powerful enough to provide 'oomph' and didn't match my hearing loss. This is why I cannot use the regular EarPods that came with the iPhone as they don't fit in my ear at all and have to rely on a HATIS headset that uses telecoil to block out the background noise entirely and only focuses on the audio ( shaped like a hook a wire straight to the headphone jack  or adapter ) or use a bluetooth receiver with an 8 hour battery with a neck loop that can stream music or audio ( ie. movies, video calls, etc ) straight from any iOS device or PC. I got the receiver from the audiologist which usually costs over $100. 

    Cochlear implants, OTOH, are a huge issue right now with the deaf community as an ongoing debate ( which has been viewed for years as a method of identity eugenics of sorts ) and mega expensive which I've heard horror stories about. I've seen the effects of it from a very old classmate I grew up with years ago and felt bad for him when he couldn't hear for two weeks post surgery, waiting to get proper activation. 

    So in short, if you have vision needs ( ie. astigmatism or such ) with glasses, you go to an eye care professional for this. Same thing goes for hearing loss/deafness. I don't see Apple having the ability to design a hearing aid in an AirPod style design. 

    And lastly, I do NOT see a practical use for AR goggles to replace the phone for the deaf or hard of hearing. Not one bit. Consider the fact that every deaf person I've known relies completely on texting or video calls to communicate. With AR goggles, it would not solve a long distance phone call as they cannot see each other. You need a camera so that they can see each other's sign language 'face to face'. Even if they're in public, I've heard stories how some have used special iOS live transcription apps to capture conversations in public to communicate. I use app such as Sign or Cardzilla where one types in large text and flashes the message across the room as you hold up the phone, especially handy in noisy environments like nightclubs or such. It works every time.

    Plus, they have certain criteria when you use sign language on screen by wearing dark clothing so that the hands can be seen by contrast, especially if they're using a VRS ( video relay service ) who have call operators on screen to follow strict ASL protocol. I don't sign much as I was originally taught to speak orally in an audist program as ASL wasn't allowed at the time but these days, I'm still learning some of them to catch up and use in case of an emergency. 

    But I would love Apple to build a small bluetooth device that clips on a shirt or stays tucked in clothing as a method to stream iOS music/audio to your hearing aid. There was a outdoor company ( this is the firm: https://www.outdoortechnology.com/ ) that made a rechargeable dongle with a clip and had an iPod like wheel with audio controls but with a headphone jack. Because where I live in New England, products like these are popular for outdoor activities. All you had to do was clip it to your belt or shirt and jack the old school headphones to it and walk around the house listening to music. This product came around around 2011-2012 ( I think) long before AirPods were a thing. And even if I'm driving, wind noise from the car door ( usually with closed windows ) usually masks my voice and I can't always raise Siri to access the map and I've wished there was a small bluetooth microphone to clip to my jacket so I don't have to scream for Siri.

    NOTE: by the way, there are some hearing aids that are rechargeable but aren't cheap and most commonly require a battery which you can buy online or at a store, or audiologist. I use a size 675 for this and get huge packs from Amazon from a German company which is cheaper than what you get in the store. 

    2nd NOTE: I want to mention that a local AR player on Ingress for iOS crossed my path a few times and once I met him in person, he had an in the ear headset for his phone to make calls. I noticed that he kept it in his ear the whole time and he mentioned that he uses it to 'pick up' the conversation with his phone that's set on the table or in front of people. I suggested he talk to an audiologist due to his hearing loss and see if he can get insurance to get a new hearing aid without relying on the headset but I haven't seen him in over a year or so. The point is that headsets such as AirPods are NOT a replacement for hearing aids. 

    Most people requiring hearing aid assistance are on Medicare -- but traditional Medicare does not cover hearing aids.  Some Medicare Advantage plans may, but then your're dealing with all the issues associated with private insurance.

    Also, it is slowly coming out that many simply need a sound amplifier rather than all the filters and such medical people specialize in. 

    Unfortunately, the hearing industry, like the vision industry, has been overwhelmed with exorbitantly priced medicalization that many simply cannot afford.  Fortunately those cartels are being challenged by over-the-counter type solutions like Airpods.   Or, this summer I was able to prescribe and order a new pair of glasses for myself at less than a third the cost it would have cost me had I used the traditional medical structure.  Basically I saved $400-$500 and ended up with what I think are a better pair of glasses than I would have had from an optician.  (The last 2 prescriptions I got from eye doctors were way off the mark)

    I think it is good that the medicalized hearing and vision structures are beginning to be limited to those who need that high level of care.    
    First, thank you Sanctum Joe for sharing your personal experience in detail.  It truly helps shed light on some of the challenges.  

    I think for the vast majority of folks who suffer from hearing loss (whether they realize/admit it or not) an AirPod-like or behind the ear Beats-like solution would be very effective, simple to operate, inexpensive and highly tunable and adaptive given the environment one is in, especially when the microphones on the iPhone and AppleWatch help determine the settings needed automatically.  In fact, the iPhone and/or AppleWatch could do the brunt of the listening and processing, then send the signal to the AirPods, thus conserving the AirPod batteries; and most would probably have a spare set of AirPodEars in the charging case, ready to swap when needed.  Not sure what the latency issues would be, but I don’t think this would be noticeable.

    So presto, stigma gone, fashion item if one desires rather than trying to hide it, easy to operate, inexpensive.  All in one fell swoop.

    If I were in the hearing aid industry I’d be quaking in my boots after seeing what AppleWatch has done to the overall watch industry.

    That's true for those who have suffered a hearing loss from external ( such as from prolonged exposure to the workforce) or internally will experience feeling distanced from their social lives ( believe me, it can be devastating ) or misunderstood. There are psychological implications of it and they have to learn to overcome and adapt with the device in order to stay connected socially. But it sounds like what you're describing is an amplification tool for the hard of hearing. 

    As for the hearing aid industry, I don't think Phonak ( they're a subsidiary of a large Swiss company and one of the 'big boys' in the field as I use their HAs ) or the others are afraid of Apple because they are still going to be around regardless because deaf people need their devices. And they're specifically designed to match certain hearing losses and have ear mold casts made by the audiologist that's a unique imprint of that person's ear which allows the sound to be contained without leaking ( ie. feedback ) and keep it secure. The AirPod design is problematic, for me, because it doesn't have a hook over the ear and I hear stories about how people are losing them in subway tunnels in NYC or here locally. I've never lost a hearing aid in my life, although I came close since it was black in color ( my choice ) and I tend to get forgetful at times. 

    For those who have hearing loss and have some residual hearing left, an AirPod may make sense if they need amplification and still communicate by voice. But for the deaf who rely on sign language or cannot hear music/communicate orally, AirPods ( or similar headsets ) with a microphone don't make sense.

    However, it can't replace a specialized device nor a cochlear implant as these are for very specific cases even though they're expensive. Do I see digital hearing aid prices going down? Someday, eventually I hope to the level where analog hearing aids used to be at. Their HA tech keeps improving over the years. When I first tried a digital hearing aid way back in 2000, it sounded weird and had less bass 'oomph' that I eventually switched back to analog which my brain was completely used to. Fast forward to 2019, this time, it's like " Wow! What a huge jump and it sounds like an analog! ". 

    I'm sure they can build an app on the Apple Watch and tie it in with the AirPod like Live Listen. I've no doubt about that as it would help the 'hard of hearing' catch on with the conversation in a quiet room or environment, maybe a restaurant or cafe if it's not too loud. 

    Consider this. My hearing aid battery lasts about 3-4 weeks which is a LOT more than what the AirPod can handle and I have to wear it from morning til before bed as I take it off ( and, yes I sleep too well ). I don't think anyone would want to put on a AirPod literally ALL DAY which, I assume, would get uncomfortable. I put on my hearing aid and don't even think about it because the ear mold makes it comfy to wear. No 'hardness' to deal with. With an EarPod/AirPod, you'd have to keep it clean and the hard surface must be uncomfortable to keep on all day. 

    I don't think changes like these will occur overnight as this will take years. At first, as an amplifier it does make sense. As a hearing aid or cochlear implant replacement? That's not going to happen easily. Especially an implant requires surgery. Cochlear implantation costs about $30K-$50K roughly. That should make your jaw drop.

    Keep in mind that the model I use is this: https://www.phonak.com/us/en/hearing-aids/phonak-naida-q.html

    and this: https://www.phonak.com/us/en/hearing-aids/accessories/phonak-com-pilot.html

    The ComPilot sound quality when I use it for Spotify or audio from my iPhone or iPad, even any PC/Mac, is fantastic. I can leave the phone on the table, walk to my room to sort laundry or clean up the living space while listening and still hear the background if a doorbell has rung. 

    I have a fencing coach in his late 60s who has a hearing loss and he has his own 'in the ear' hearing aid time to time and uses the ComPilot like I do. I don't know how much worse his hearing will get but it might get to the point where he needs a new device or speech therapy ( he's asked me about it since he needs to learn to read lips while I've been doing this since as a kid ). 
  • Reply 19 of 34
    Sanctum1972Sanctum1972 Posts: 112unconfirmed, member
    BigDann said:
    How about body temp and ambient temp so heat stroke or fever are detected.

    That would be very helpful for endurance athletes.   The last year I worked the medical team of the Pittsburgh Marathon we had a dozen people with body temps over 110 degrees -- which is life threatening.   It would be better if they could monitor it rather than waiting for a physician to determine it after they collapse.
    That's something I'm waiting for since I'm a fencer and it does get hot under the jacket and mask. I'm prone to heat and have to cool off at times and have to monitor my thyroid which may end up being Hashimoto's if it gets to that point. And yes, 110 degrees is deadly. Not only that I rather have a 'blood oximeter' or pulse oximetry which is why I'm holding off on Apple Watch ( it supposedly had one but the sensor wasn't activated? ). I had pneumonia a few years ago and it almost killed me because I was breathing less than 94 percent despite my heart rate and got hit by a virus, to the point of being feverish that week prior to hospitalization. That is scary enough and I managed to recover less than a month after getting some medical help. 

    Currently, I use a Garmin Vivosmart 3 and it's done its job for me and much cheaper, however battery life is not bad. I'm still looking for alternatives now that I'm hearing other competitors have Pulse Oximetry in their watches which I value over heart rate which is secondary. 
  • Reply 20 of 34
    cg27cg27 Posts: 134member
    cg27 said:
    cg27 said:
    And while Apple Watch now can alert you to noisy high decibel surroundings, I hope this is merely a baby step towards Apple offering...

    full fledged AirPod hearing aids,

    which I’ll call AirPodEars.

    Only Apple has the cachet to overnight rid the perceived stigma of wearing hearing aids (which prevents many folks from even considering them, let alone the high cost of purchase and battery replacements).

    Not only that, by virtue of Apple designing them they could actually be fashionable, just as eye glasses are.

    And coupled with AppleWatch and/or iPhone control, the AirPodEars would be far simpler, superior and cheaper to purchase and operate.

    Come on Apple, I’m sure this must be in development.
    A friend has an iPhone app-controlled hearing aid. It is so small I didn’t even notice it until he pointed it out. That being said, I have zero expectation for Apple to build this first-party. Just like how they don’t build printers, scanners, or many other specialty accessories. 
    I don’t disagree that Apple hearing aids might seem too niche, however:

    + On average 10,000 Americans turn 65 EVERY day, and this baby boom generation will need plenty of hearing help

    + It bears repeating: Only Apple has the cachet to make hearing aids acceptable to the vast majority with no stigma, so much so that they wouldn’t need to be hidden or tiny but rather obvious like AirPods, thus allowing better and rechargeable battery life without the need for expensive battery replacements

    + Replacing $300 AirPodEars would be a lot cheaper than the $2000 or more aids cost now (each for the better ones)

    + In fact, if they look identical to AirPods or AirPod Pros, no one would know if they were regular AirPods or hearing enhancers.

    - The only negatives I can see for Apple is that the demographic tends to be older (thus generally less hip) and having lead the way with iPods and everyone blasting music in their ears Apple might be overly sensitive to being associated with helping cause the hearing loss in the first place

    + Apple could offer these readily.  Medical device approvals shouldn’t be that difficult with Apple’s R&D capability 

    + Apple would be admired for turning a major stigma inside out (from scourge to fashion statement, if one so chooses)

    I'm born deaf myself with severe hearing loss on the left and profound on the right, wearing only one digital hearing aid on the left side. I've literally grown up with the HA with a box in a shirt pocket with wires  ( think headphones ) from the late 70s all the way to BTE ( behind the ear ) design and can say that digital hearing aids are now the standard. I loved the analog aids due to their bass and volume sound quality, not to mention that they were a lot cheaper in the range of $500-800, sometimes $1,200 for a pair at the most. However, they've been phased out mostly in favor of digital which has to be programmed by the audiologist. My current digital hearing aid is from Phonak and cost about $1,200. Just for one. Fortunately, insurance coverage was available and I have a very good audiologist. 

    Also, hearing aids are considered 'medical' devices that can be covered by insurance, or if one can afford to pay in cash/credit. An Apple designed hearing aid would require approval to be covered by insurance as a medical device. My problem is with the actual design of AirPods that go right into your ear canal in contrast to the BTE design which is a lot more stable and more powerful ( think Beats Pro headphones with ear hooks ).

    And you literally have to have a earmold cast for the hearing aid to fit into your ear properly. Also digital hearing aids that are controlled by an iPhone concerns me in that if you lose the phone, how do you control the HA? 

    Most importantly, for a hearing aid to work for the person with hearing loss, a hearing test must be done by an audiologist to determine the level of loss and which type of HA works best. Therefore, Apple's 'one size fits all' solution won't work. Consider this. Analog hearing aids are like amplifiers but they're designed to work with someone's specific hearing loss or deafness as they all differ for each person. Trust me, I've tried the 'in your ear' hearing aid years ago and it didn't sound good to me and that was because it wasn't powerful enough to provide 'oomph' and didn't match my hearing loss. This is why I cannot use the regular EarPods that came with the iPhone as they don't fit in my ear at all and have to rely on a HATIS headset that uses telecoil to block out the background noise entirely and only focuses on the audio ( shaped like a hook a wire straight to the headphone jack  or adapter ) or use a bluetooth receiver with an 8 hour battery with a neck loop that can stream music or audio ( ie. movies, video calls, etc ) straight from any iOS device or PC. I got the receiver from the audiologist which usually costs over $100. 

    Cochlear implants, OTOH, are a huge issue right now with the deaf community as an ongoing debate ( which has been viewed for years as a method of identity eugenics of sorts ) and mega expensive which I've heard horror stories about. I've seen the effects of it from a very old classmate I grew up with years ago and felt bad for him when he couldn't hear for two weeks post surgery, waiting to get proper activation. 

    So in short, if you have vision needs ( ie. astigmatism or such ) with glasses, you go to an eye care professional for this. Same thing goes for hearing loss/deafness. I don't see Apple having the ability to design a hearing aid in an AirPod style design. 

    And lastly, I do NOT see a practical use for AR goggles to replace the phone for the deaf or hard of hearing. Not one bit. Consider the fact that every deaf person I've known relies completely on texting or video calls to communicate. With AR goggles, it would not solve a long distance phone call as they cannot see each other. You need a camera so that they can see each other's sign language 'face to face'. Even if they're in public, I've heard stories how some have used special iOS live transcription apps to capture conversations in public to communicate. I use app such as Sign or Cardzilla where one types in large text and flashes the message across the room as you hold up the phone, especially handy in noisy environments like nightclubs or such. It works every time.

    Plus, they have certain criteria when you use sign language on screen by wearing dark clothing so that the hands can be seen by contrast, especially if they're using a VRS ( video relay service ) who have call operators on screen to follow strict ASL protocol. I don't sign much as I was originally taught to speak orally in an audist program as ASL wasn't allowed at the time but these days, I'm still learning some of them to catch up and use in case of an emergency. 

    But I would love Apple to build a small bluetooth device that clips on a shirt or stays tucked in clothing as a method to stream iOS music/audio to your hearing aid. There was a outdoor company ( this is the firm: https://www.outdoortechnology.com/ ) that made a rechargeable dongle with a clip and had an iPod like wheel with audio controls but with a headphone jack. Because where I live in New England, products like these are popular for outdoor activities. All you had to do was clip it to your belt or shirt and jack the old school headphones to it and walk around the house listening to music. This product came around around 2011-2012 ( I think) long before AirPods were a thing. And even if I'm driving, wind noise from the car door ( usually with closed windows ) usually masks my voice and I can't always raise Siri to access the map and I've wished there was a small bluetooth microphone to clip to my jacket so I don't have to scream for Siri.

    NOTE: by the way, there are some hearing aids that are rechargeable but aren't cheap and most commonly require a battery which you can buy online or at a store, or audiologist. I use a size 675 for this and get huge packs from Amazon from a German company which is cheaper than what you get in the store. 

    2nd NOTE: I want to mention that a local AR player on Ingress for iOS crossed my path a few times and once I met him in person, he had an in the ear headset for his phone to make calls. I noticed that he kept it in his ear the whole time and he mentioned that he uses it to 'pick up' the conversation with his phone that's set on the table or in front of people. I suggested he talk to an audiologist due to his hearing loss and see if he can get insurance to get a new hearing aid without relying on the headset but I haven't seen him in over a year or so. The point is that headsets such as AirPods are NOT a replacement for hearing aids. 

    Most people requiring hearing aid assistance are on Medicare -- but traditional Medicare does not cover hearing aids.  Some Medicare Advantage plans may, but then your're dealing with all the issues associated with private insurance.

    Also, it is slowly coming out that many simply need a sound amplifier rather than all the filters and such medical people specialize in. 

    Unfortunately, the hearing industry, like the vision industry, has been overwhelmed with exorbitantly priced medicalization that many simply cannot afford.  Fortunately those cartels are being challenged by over-the-counter type solutions like Airpods.   Or, this summer I was able to prescribe and order a new pair of glasses for myself at less than a third the cost it would have cost me had I used the traditional medical structure.  Basically I saved $400-$500 and ended up with what I think are a better pair of glasses than I would have had from an optician.  (The last 2 prescriptions I got from eye doctors were way off the mark)

    I think it is good that the medicalized hearing and vision structures are beginning to be limited to those who need that high level of care.    
    Some of the Medicare plans may cover them, even Medicaid from the state. I think it's a state by state basis, however in my state a local organization is trying to push for support on a bill that requires hearing aid insurance coverage so people can benefit from that assistance. For those who are hard of hearing or experiencing hearing loss, some form of amplification is helpful unless it becomes profound to the point that a specialist is required as a last resort. 

    In regards to vision care, no doubt about that. Glasses are not cheap and I've had one that was almost $350 back in 2011. I got a new one that was about $60 back in 2017 which wasn't bad and now I've a new prescription just for the lenses. So in that sense, I plan to go back to the original frames which were better built but only for the lenses to be replaced and hoping a new insurance plan will cover it via Medicare. I've thought about using the Warby Parker app to do it. 

    I'm old school and prefer a hearing aid that has a BTE design which is more stable with an earmold compared to a counterpart such as an AirPod which people, from what I'm hearing, keep losing. Even someone posted in a local bulletin board in my town had found a lost AirPod to alert the public. I think an amplifier would only go so far for the hard of hearing demographic while for the deaf who require a hearing aid or cochlear implant, the situation would be different. And that means the AirPods would have to go through some industrial design changes for that to work since they still look like headphones. 

    For me, there is no stigma because I'm used to it and whether people notice my hearing aid doesn't matter much. In winter, it's pretty much covered up with my hat but in warmer seasons, it's there. So I'm mainly responsible for letting people know I need to see what they're saying as I read lips. On the other hand, when it comes to communicating with deaf people, I just switch to sign language mode if needed. I've known some deaf people who don't even wear hearing aids and prefer to just move on with their lives without an audiologist and just sign. Nothing wrong with that, either. 

    So in a sense, it appears to be the mainstreamed demographic that has a form of hearing loss and needing an amplifier and the other requiring an audiologist to get fitted for the hearing aid and ear mold. Cochlear implantation, from my understanding, takes some adjusting to the sound and going through some form of speech therapy with a specialist if it gets to that point. 
    Absolutely correct, I was referring to people that are merely hard of hearing that could benefit from an Apple solution, not necessarily those with severe hearing loss or those that are practically deaf.

    Just to be clear, I don’t wish for the hearing aid industry to suffer should Apple go into this aggressively, but with Apple’s ecosystem advantage and the huge installed base of users, the effect on existing device makers would be painful.  And let’s not forget about the resellers of these devices, other than Costco, it seems to be very much a mom and pop industry taking out all those full page ads in newspapers and magazines with tremendous claims (and high markups).  It’s ripe for disruption and prices to tumble.

    Your insights are very helpful for me to better understand the pros and cons of certain devices, and for that I thank you.
    Sanctum1972
Sign In or Register to comment.