'Made for iPhone' hearing aids aim to shake stigma

Apple partners with GN ReSound to create LiNX -- a hearing aid that uses Bluetooth-like technology to wirelessly connect directly to smartphones.

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Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
GN ReSound partnered with Apple to create the LiNX hearing aid. GN ReSound

Apple has gotten into creating technology that assists baby boomers: hearing aids.

The tech giant has partnered with Danish company GN ReSound to design the first "Made for iPhone" hearing aid, dubbed LiNX. Using Bluetooth-like technology, this hearing aid connects directly to iPhones and is the smallest wireless device GN has ever made.

One of the companies' goals is to de-stigmatize the use of hearing aids. According to Reuters, GN's partnership with Apple started last year and the two companies have since met frequently to work on and improve LiNX.

"ReSound LiNX again underlines our core strength of bringing breakthrough innovations to the hearing impaired, making them consumers with choices rather than patients with challenges," GN ReSound's CEO Lars Viksmoen said in a statement.

Most hearing aids use intermediary transmitters, but LiNX's Bluetooth-like technology can communicate directly with a smartphone. The hearing aid connects to an iPhone using 2.4GHz wireless technology, which consumes less battery life. The communication process between the two devices is similar to how smartwatches and activity trackers relay information with smartphones.

Not only does LiNX enhance sound, but users can also stream music and use the devices for receiving phone calls. The hearing aid comes with an iOS app that lets users personalize their settings.

As baby boomers get older, the hearing aid market is set grow. According to Reuters, 360 million people worldwide suffer from hearing loss and that number is increasing. Currently, one-tenth of the world's population is older than 60, but the United Nations predicts that by 2050 one-fifth will be over the age of 60.

GN officially unveiled LiNX last month. The hearing aid will cost roughly $3,000 and be launched globally in the beginning of 2014.

CNET contacted Apple for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.

[Via Reuters]