Bluetooth wireless technology in a hearing instrument?
ELI DirX is a miniature Bluetooth® device that offers
wireless communication between hearing aid wearers and a
growing assortment of modern Bluetooth signal sources. ELI
DirX connects to any compatible communication device, ELI
DirX eliminating the hassle of cable clutter, and offers
users the freedom to communicate anytime and anywhere.
We designed ELI to eliminate the problems associated with
using hearing instruments and mobile phones. ELI offers
hearing instrument wearers the freedom of hands-free communication
with Bluetooth®-compatible phones and other consumer
electronics. ELI's digital signal provides wireless relief
from feedback and other electromagnetic problems associated
with telephone use by hearing instrument wearers. When
paired with a Bluetooth®-enabled phone, ELI's
signal automatically overrides the hearing instrument's
microphone signal, improving the signal and clarity for
the wearer. When the call is finished, ELI automatically
returns to the instrument's normal microphone mode.
The ELI DirX Ear-Level Instrument is the smallest
audio Bluetooth device on the market, with dimensions of
27 mm x 16 mm x 11 mm and a weight of 5.2 grams. Three
pins connect it to any behind-the-ear hearing aid that
uses a Europlug standard direct audio input (DAI) connector
(Figure 2). The pins on the ELI DirX module rotate 270
degrees to accommodate either a right or left hearing aid.
ELI DirX provides bidirectional digital communication
between a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone and a hearing
aid. Since the signal being transmitted between these devices
is digital, it is not subject to the same sources of interference
as other types of wireless transmission, such as analog
FM or analog inductive transmission.
In this Bluetooth application, the ELI DirX module is
the slave, while the mobile phone with which it communicates
is the master device. To pair ELI DirX to a mobile phone
or other Bluetooth master, the user holds down the button
on the ELI DirX module when it is within 10 meters of the
other device. The light emitting diode (LED) of the ELI
DirX module blinks red and green, indicating that it is
in the pairing mode and then glows a steady green when
pairing is complete. Connecting is accomplished by clicking
icons on the mobile phone screen, and reconnecting is as
simple as pressing a button on the ELI DirX module or clicking
icons on the mobile phone.
The ELI DirX module is very easy to use. When a call comes
in, it rings through the hearing aid itself via the ELI
DirX module, instead of ringing from the phone. To answer,
the wearer simply presses the button on the ELI DirX module.
If the caller hangs up, ELI DirX recognizes that the call
is finished and disconnects automatically. Alternatively,
if the wearer wishes to hang up, he or she can do so by
pressing the ELI DirX module button. One needs the mobile
phone only to dial.
During a phone conversation, the digital voice signal
from the mobile phone is transmitted via Bluetooth to the
ELI DirX module. The module converts the digital signal
into its analog equivalent and sends the resulting electrical
signal to the hearing aid circuitry via the DAI boot. When
a signal from ELI DirX enters the hearing aid through the
DAI boot, it overrides the microphone signal and is shaped
by the same parameters that govern the hearing aid response
for a microphone input. Thus the response characteristics
are well customized to the hearing aid wearer's needs.
A microphone on the bottom of the ELI DirX module picks
up the wearer's voice. ELI DirX performs an analog-to-digital
conversion and sends the resulting digital signal to the
mobile phone via Bluetooth. The proximity of the microphone
to the speaker's mouth ensures a strong signal level and
favorable signal-to-noise ratio.
The ELI DirX module is powered by a custom, rechargeable
lithium-ion-polymer battery, which is fully recharged in
1.5 hours by placing the module in its charge cradle (Figure
3). Since talk time on such a device is a critical variable,
considerable effort went into the battery development.
Active talk time of the ELI DirX module is 2.5 hours, and
at full charge the battery has a standby life of 140 hours
before recharging is required.
The ELI DirX module relies entirely on its own power source
and does not drain current from the hearing aid battery.
Therefore, it has no impact on hearing aid battery life.
The strength of the mobile phone audio signal at the wearer's
ear is determined by the settings of the mobile phone and
the hearing aid. If the wearer wants a louder signal, he
can adjust either the mobile phone volume or the hearing
ELI AT A GLANCE
- Minimizes the buzz of digital mobile phone interference
in hearing instruments
- Connects to Behind-The-Ear (BTE) hearing instruments
or can be used with custom hearing instruments via
a special neck loop
- Talk time of up to 150 minutes and 140-hour operating
time in standby mode
- Offers 30-foot range with no line-of-sight requirements
- Powered by a rechargeable, lithium-ion battery
- Rotates 270 degrees for left- and right-ear compatibility
- FCC, CE and Bluetooth compliant
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