Posted tagged ‘hearing’

Firmware

August 29, 2020

It sucks getting old. Over the past few years I have been experiencing hearing loss. Right now I am working on my second set of hearing aids that I bought at Costco back in January.

My particular hearing aids have a feature whereby one can connect to your TV to pipe the audio directly to one’s hearing aids. It does this by way of an audio streamer device that connects to the audio output of our TV.

So what exactly is “Firmware”? Here’s the def from Wikipedia:

In computing, firmware is a specific class of computer software that provides the low-level control for a device’s specific. Firmware can either provide a standardized operating environment for more complex device software hardware-independence), or, for less complex devices, act as the device’s complete, performing all control, monitoring and data manipulation functions. Typical examples of devices containing firmware are embedded systems, consumer appliances, computers, computer peripherals, and others. Almost all electronic devices beyond the simplest contain some firmware.

My hearing aids also have Blue Tooth capability which allows me to control them with my iPhone. So I can adjust the volume or bass/treble with the ReSound app.

So what does this have to do with firmware? Yesterday, I had to visit the folks at the hearing aid dept. at Costco. My complaint was the I couldn’t connect to the audio streamer. Sometimes I could, but mostly not.

So I explained the problem with the technician, she took my hearing aids and started working on the problem. First thing that she had to do was to update the firmware on the hearing aids. So who knew that hearing aids have firmware? Not me.

So many devices that we use everyday operate with firmware. Generally, there is never a need to update the FW. But in this case, the FW can be updated by the hearing aid technician. So that’s where my problem started. The update failed. That means that she has to ship the hearing aids back to the factory to get fixed. 🙁

So that means I need to wait for 7-10 days to get my hearing aids back and hopefully working. Luckily, I still have my old hearing aids that still manage to work. It’s just that the old devices can’t connect to the TV audio. 🙁🙁🙁

One last thing. I don’t want to sound negative about Costco. I have nothing but praise for their support. The people at the Costco (in Torrance, CA) are the best. Good prices and great support.

Hearing Aids

December 14, 2019

Not long ago I looked at the sign at church about parking for the elderly and people with small children. I have never thought of myself being “elderly”, but I guess I am at the age of 71. I parked in the spot.

So over the last 6 years my hearing has steadily been getting worse. I bought a set of hearing aids at Costco up in Torrance. They have an excellent hearing aid center there.

So recently, I saw my doctor who scheduled me for a hearing test at Kaiser. No surprise, my hearing is getting worse. The technician gave me a report that I took to the folks at the Costco hearing aid center.

They didn’t try to sell me any new hearing aids although hearing aid life is somewhere about four years. So I might be due soon. The technician adjusted my hearing aids and they made a big difference.

One of my problems is that the hearing aids raise the sound level of everything, not just the people talking to me. Noise gets amplified too. So I have become sensitive to loud environments. We went to a kids Christmas party last week. They were playing loud Christmas music and people were talking loudly to make up for the music. I almost left.

So my hearing aids are made by Resound. I have an audio streaming device connected to our TV so that I don’t need the volume turned up real loud. I also have an interface that connects to my iPhone by blue tooth.

Hearing dialogue at movie theaters continues to be a challenge for me. Some movie theaters have head phones that one can borrow. Some times they help, sometimes not.

I need to train people to face me when you talk so that I can see your lips moving.

There’s an app for that…

June 25, 2013

Yesterday (Monday), I picked up my new hearing aids at Costco. The technician programmed my new hearing aids with my hearing profile.

Here’s a picture of the new aids. I put a ruler in the picture to get an idea of the size.

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Next was the programming of the “Phone Clip”. This is the device that has the Bluetooth interface. Phone clip paired with the hearing aids and then to my iPhone. So far, so good. Then he had me install the free iPhone app to control the hearing aids.

Here’s a picture of the phone clip. Phone clip has buttons for volume, program, and phone answer. It has a microphone to be used when making phone calls.

2013-06-25 09.04.01

The hearing aid was loaded with three “programs”. First is normal, second “noise” and third is “telecoil”.

Telecoil is a hearing aid system sometimes installed in theaters and public address systems whereby the sound is sent directly to the hearing aid.

Here are a couple of screen shots from the iPhone app. So with a swipe of a finger you can change either volume settings or program. Cool.

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Costco Hearing Aids

June 19, 2013

Yesterday, we went for my appointment with the Costco Hearing Aid dept. We met with Vallonna who is the Hearing Aid Center manager. After filling out some forms and giving her my copy of my hearing test from Kaiser we got down to business.

We started with some more hearing tests. As usual, I sat in a sound proof room and listened to the head phones. Push the button when you hear the tone. In addition to what they did at Kaiser, she also did a loudness test. ie. How loud can we go before you feel pain? Push the button when it gets too loud.

She recommended a pair of Resound Forza 8 behind the ear BTE hearing aids. Base price of about $1350 each. Expensive but a lot less than the price at Hearx. She then programmed a pair of hearing aids for me to try. The hearing aids come with a handy remote control that can control both volume and program. She showed me how to use. Set it up with two programs, one for noisy and one for normal. Then she sent us off to wander around the store for 30 minutes.

This was something that the folks at Hearx never offered. Try before you buy, what a concept. The Costco warehouse was certainly a hearing challenging area. It took a little getting used to, but I liked them.

So we ordered the hearing aid pair. Paid with the Costco Amex card which gives 2% rebate at the end of the year. We also ordered the phone clip that provides the Blue Tooth capability. Pick up next Monday where Vallona will program. Then we have followup appointment the following Monday to see how things are going. I am looking forward to getting them.

TTFN

Joe

HearUSA/HEARx

June 12, 2013

Yesterday, I had my appointment with HearUSA in Torrance. It is a small store front that was easy to miss. There was a receptionist that had a several forms for me to fill out. Waited for about ten minutes to get to see the audiologist. (I think that’s the right term. Her card says she is “Doctor of Audiology”)

We got right down to business. She looked at my hearing test results and recommended a couple of behind the ear (BTE) models of hearing aids made by Siemens. The hearing aids are very small. Certainly smaller than I had envisioned. So I got to try one on. Hardly knew it was there. In fact, I would be afraid that it might fall off and get lost. That thought scares the hell out of me. ie. losing a device worth a couple of thousand dollars. Unfortunately, the demo units were just that demo units and didn’t actually work.

So here is a picture I took with my iPhone. It is really hard to get a feel from the picture how really small they are.

The audiologist was very pleasant. No hard sell. Just told me the prices. Both were in the range of $3600-$4600 for the pair. The price included the 20% discount for being a Kaiser member. Price included three year warranty and free batteries for three years. We were told that batteries last about a week with average usage. Package of 60 batteries runs about $25 on Amazon.com. I figure that package would last 6 months. So free battery offer is worth $300 over the three years. They also offer 12 month/0% financing. I suppose that eases the pain of forking over $5000 in one swipe of my Visa card.

The price didn’t include optional gadgets. Siemens sells a device that they call a “MiniTEK”. This is the device used to do Bluetooth and other various magic. Add $550, if you want Bluetooth. MiniTEK is device about the size of a garage door opener.

So here’s where we stand. Appointment with Costco next Tuesday. Then we get to decide. Told the woman at we’d get back to her once we decide. She didn’t try to persuade us to decide before we left. If it weren’t for the price, I would probably go with HEARx.

One more link. Here is the Facebook link.

Later…

Can you hear me now?

June 9, 2013

Over the past few months, it has become clear that I have been experiencing hearing loss. It kind of has been sneaking up on me. It started with fights over the TV remote volume control. I kept turning the volume up. Paula kept wanting it turned down.

I tried turning on closed captioning, but on broadcast TV the captioning lag the speech by about 3-5 seconds which is really annoying. Captioning on DVD’s tends to sync rather well with the spoken word.

I also was trouble understanding speech at lodge and chapter meetings. Bad audio system didn’t help.

Listening to a person speak in a crowded room with a lot of background noise has become impossible.

So I finally made an appointment at Kaiser for audio test. It seems that the hearing test is just about the only thing that is free. I quickly found out that hearing aids are very expensive. (we are talking about thousands of dollars).

So the test revealed normal hearing for low frequencies and moderate to severe hearing loss for higher frequencies (2Khz and above). This explains why I could hear men speak and not women.

So I have made appointments for hearing aids at a place called “HEARx” which is a subsidiary of HEARusa. (Partly owned by Kaiser). I also found out the Costco is in the hearing aid business and costs significantly less than all the rest. So appointment made with Costco.

Here’s an article that I found in the NY Times on the issue. Interesting stuff. Hearing aid technology has come a long way. Most hearing aids now support Bluetooth. So you can directly connect to iPhones and the like.

More later after I meet with Hearx and Costco