Starkey Halo: Made for iPhone Hearing Aid
My previous post on the ReSound LiNXMade for iPhone hearing aid was very popular among our readers, so I thought I’d do a write-up on the Starkey Halo as well. This will be a general overview of the product, what I have learned about it and a summary of the features which set it apart from other hearing aids in the Starkey line-up and all other hearing aids in the world. This hearing aid has not been out very long and reviews are scarce, so if you have any experience with it, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section at the bottom of this post.
At the end of February 2014, ReSound introduced the LiNX, which was the first and highly anticipated Made for iPhone hearing aid to hit the market. The LiNX has been met with a lot of praise- I’ve read very little in way of negative reviews. The release of the LiNX got a lot of attention- there were rumors of it over 12 months before it was introduced to the market. Working quietly in the background however, was Starkey Hearing Technologies, bringing their first Made for iPhone hearing aid to market on March 31st, 2014. Several other hearing aid manufacturers are said to be working on their own Made for iPhone hearing aids, which will be probably be released before the end of 2015.
A general overview of the Starkey Halo & its features
The Starkey Halo is built on the already successful BluWave 3.0 operating system, an operating system designed to maximize performance in a variety of challenging listening environments. This operating system has been around for a few generations of products now. It’s tried and true, and very successful. The foundation of the Starkey Halo is solid and ensures that the aid will never whistle, will perform well in background noise, and will be a discrete and comfortable fit. All of that is very important, but many manufacturers can promise the same things- so let’s look at what really separates this aid and makes it a truly best in class product. Here is a quick look at what the Halo promises:
- Stream calls from your iPhone directly to your hearing aids using Bluetooth® 4.0 wireless technology
- Use your iPhone remotely to control your hearing aids
- Stream FaceTime®, music and more directly to your hearing aid
- Use your Apple device to locate your misplaced hearing aids
- Smart and intuitive “geo-tagging”
- Remote microphone functionality via the iPhone app
Even if you are an experienced hearing aid wearer, some of these concepts may be new to you, so let’s run down them one by one. First of all, streaming calls from your smart phone is not a new concept, but streaming them directly to your iPhone without using an intermediary device is a new concept. Until now, if you wanted to do this you’d have to spend nearly $900 for the Surflink Mobile device, which you would pair with your iPhone, and would then have to carry with you everywhere you went. The Surflink Mobile is an amazing accessory, but it’s a downright nuisance to have to carry one more device with you everywhere you go. The Starkey Halo and the ReSound LiNX are the only two products on the market which allow for this streaming without an intermediary device.
Using your iPhone as remote control for your hearing aids is also not a new concept. Starkey has had apps that have been able to do this for years (and so have other manufacturers), but the way in which this new remote control functions is a new concept and is certainly remarkable. Using the companion app TruLink which you can download for free in the App Store, you have a ton of flexibility in adjusting your hearing aids. You can make adjustments to the bass, treble, and volume. While this may not seem like a lot, being able to adjust all of these things independently makes it a heck of a lot easier to get your hearing aids sounding like they should in a number of different environments.
Then, once you’ve made those adjustments, you can save those settings and assign them a specific memory inside the hearing aid. There is room for 20 memories (counting the 4 your hearing provider puts in by default). Then, you can assign those memories to automatically activate whenever you are back at the location at which you originally “tagged” that setting. So the GPS from your iPhone knows where you are, and when to adjust your hearing aids based on your tagged locations and the adjustments you have made in the past. So if you’re at a noisy restaurant and can’t hear clearly, it’s as simple as pulling out your iPhone, opening your TruLink app, using the remote so the hearing aids sound better, and then saving that memory. Now, next time you go back to that restaurant, your aids will automatically switch over to that setting which you designated earlier. All of this can be done within 10 seconds.
Also new is the “find my hearing aids” feature, which basically allows you to play a game of “hot or cold” when searching for your hearing aids. As you get closer to your hearing aids, graphical bars on the iPhone screen enlarge to let you know you are “warmer.” Lastly, the remote microphone feature can be very helpful in a variety of challenging listening environments. If the concept of a remote microphone is new to you, it’s as simple as imagining yourself holding a microphone and placing it right next to things you want to hear perfectly. The sound from the microphone is streamed directly in to your hearing aids. So if you’re in a group conversation like a board meeting for example, you could place the iPhone in the middle of the conference room to enhance the clarity of speech from 360 degrees.
The Starkey Halo utilizes a new, sleek design, and is powered by a size 13 battery which is reported to give users 7-9 days of battery life even with heavy streaming. Since the size 13 battery is bigger than the size 312 that the LiNX use, the Starkey is a slightly bigger hearing aid, but the battery life will be extended a few days over the LiNX, so it’s a net positive in my opinion. The Halo does not have on-board controls like volume or memory buttons, so you’ll have to use your iPhone to make all adjustments. It is also not compatible with any of the Surflink accessories. The Starkey Halo is available in 3 technology levels, the i70, i90, and i110- for social, active, and vibrant lifestyles. This aid can be worn open-fit mild to moderate losses, but it can also be fit with Starkey’s amazing Absolute Power molds for severe to profound losses. Starkey is said to be working on an Android version at the moment, and they are also working on getting this technology in to smaller (potentially invisible) hearing aids within the next few years.
Since this hearing aid is so new, there is very little feedback on it at this point. In the next few weeks I would expect reviews to be trickling in here, so check back often and see what people have to say about it!
If you’d like a free phone consultation with a licensed hearing provider, please feel free to call us at 800-731-6794.