SoundID was created to meet a common need – some help with hearing without the full gamut (and expense) of prescription hearing aids. Their EarModule™ provides amplification and frequency-dependent correction, but SoundID wanted to add Bluetooth hands-free operation to it. This also provided the opportunity for a so-called Companion Microphone, also linked by Bluetooth, for the user to give to their conversation partner when the ambient noise level is high.
Our brief was to fit all this functionality on to a low-cost standard Bluetooth chip.
Our Interface Express® Bluetooth development environment allows complex applications to be developed on the processor core of a standard CSR Bluetooth chip. Using this tool, we were able to build the application which switches from standard hearing assist to Companion mode when the Companion microphone is switched on, and for an incoming phone call to override.
The Bluetooth implementation in some popular mobile phones insists on being the master in any Bluetooth link. However, the EarModule needs to take the master role when working with the Companion microphone. A Bluetooth device can operate in a dual mode like this – a so-called Scatternet – but it is complex, requiring considerable expertise.
The SoundID product range has proven to be a great success, with its triple mode of operation, providing many of the benefits of hearing aids costing thousands of dollars, but at a cost of less than $200.
An additional benefit is that the audiologist’s computer can also connect via Bluetooth for configuration of the EarModule. This means that the unit can be configured whilst being worn, and with no trailing cables.
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