Thanks to a collaboration between Amazon and Cochlear, the largest manufacturer of hearing implants, a small number of Amazon Fire TV devices now allow audio streaming to hearing implants. Hearing implant patients can hear a range of audio information thanks to it. Streaming content from Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, podcasts, audiobooks, Alexa voice feedback, system sounds, and local TV network audio are all included, depending on the Fire TV device.
The new function makes use of the Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA) Bluetooth protocol and makes special adjustments for implant users’ unique needs. Currently, Fire TV Omni QLED Series, Fire TV Omni Series, Fire TV 4-Series, Fire TV Cube (3rd Gen), and Fire TV Cube (2nd Gen) gadgets support streaming for hearing implants. It is compatible with sound processors made by Cochlear, Nucleus 8, Nucleus 7, Nucleus Kansu 2, and Baha 6 Max.
According to the Ear Science Institute Australia, over 750,000 people have had hearing implants put in since the gadgets were first made available in the 1980s. Despite this sizable user base, the gadgets continue to be divisive in the deaf world; this subject was covered in the lauded 2019 movie Sound Of Metal.
For those who have implants, the Fire TV support makes it possible for them to view TV-based material without having to purchase intermediary devices. In the months preceding this launch, Michael Forzani, an Amazon software developer who has used cochlear implants ever since he lost his hearing as a young boy, tested the technology. According to Forzani, “I would probably be missing out on, perhaps, 40% to 50% of the words if I was attempting to watch on the TV in the living room [with hearing implants alone] due to the echoing, the loss in clarity, and due to the different voices that you might not be so acquainted with.”
The addition of support for persons with hearing difficulties by Amazon is not new. The first devices to stream directly to Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids using ASHA were Fire TV devices in 2022.