Bluetooth Rocks!

Like most long-married folks, Buck and I have little jokes together. One of ours is that since I can't see and he can't hear, it's a good thing we found each other. Actually, I can see up close okay, but you wouldn't want to be on the same highway with me if I was driving without my glasses. I'm quite near-sighted, plus I have this weird astigmatism that makes it difficult for me to tell which lane oncoming vehicles are in.  Just imagine if you saw a driver lower their window, cover up one eye and inch slowly into the road. . . . yep. Other drivers get out of my way.

Buck's hearing impairment has worsened steadily over the years. He's a scary-good lip reader, but we are always on the look-out for new technologies that will give him bionic ears. He wears high-tech silver and black behind-the-ear digital hearing aids made by Phonac. We have a conference-style phone at home that makes it possible for him to have a comfortable conversation, but cell phones continue to be frustrating. Most cell phones these days are  "hearing aid compatible," but in our experience, that hasn't meant much.

The newest, "bleeding edge," hearing aids can now be bought with built-in Bluetooth capabilities that can enable wearers to connect to cell phones, IPods, televisions, and other wireless devices. Hearing aids are very expensive, however, and so we were hopeful of finding a device to improve Buck's cell phone experience and "bridge" him over for another year or so while the latest greatest technology gets even better. As the huge baby boomer cohort enters the age of diminished natural hearing. . . well, you can assume the problem is going to get solved a lot faster. Suddenly, hearing aids aren't just for Granddad anymore. Plus, these days, almost everyone is wearing something on their ears. Hearing aids come in sexy colors now, too, just like Bluetooth headsets.

Buck's audiologist, Dr. Jennifer Reeves Sylvester, did some research for us. Enter the Artone Bluetooth Loopset, made by Westone. It's a nifty looking black and silver Bluetooth pendant on a black cord that can be worn over or under a person's shirt. It pairs with a cell phone, and the audio goes straight into the hearing aid wearer's ears, in stereo. And, at $167, it's a real bargain.

We were skeptical, but it works! So, today, we went out to Best Buy and bought a Plantronics Voyager Pro headset for me. I've never used a Bluetooth ear piece with my cell phone before. I am surprised how much I like it. Best of all, my voice is delivered via Bluetooth through Buck's hearing aids with perfect clarity. It's exhilarating to whisper to each other into the air and have the endearments arrive clear as pillow talk.

We hung out for awhile at Best Buy looking at gizmos. Now that we have the Bluetooth loopset template, we are looking at all sorts of wireless devices in a new way, with an eye toward using them to extend and enhance quality of life and independence. We even began to "blue sky" ideas for a new, smaller house that is truly a gee-whiz electronic cottage, with acoustics, lighting and computer design tailored to keep us plugged into this remarkable world until the day we matriculate to some other form of energy.

9 thoughts on “Bluetooth Rocks!

  1. My parents, who have both already matriculated to some other form of energy (thank you for this phrase), would have been going nuts about now with all the technology! Just think how many conversations that started with ‘I told you that yesterday…didn’t you hear me?’ could have been avoided…^-^
    I use a Bluetooth ear piece with Skype and am amazed each day at how clear the reception is…only wish there was a smaller version of the part that goes in the ear (can’t think of the right word for it…Sunday morning and not yet awake) as mine keeps popping out…LOL

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  2. Ah, yes. There is nothing endearing or romantic about having to yell an endearment! So, perhaps the cottage on the cove will be wired?

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  3. I’m happy for both of you. My father was hard of hearing and I know it made life difficult. We’re so fortunate to live in an age where there seems to be something “out there” to fix nearly anything.
    Keep whispering those sweet nothings.

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  4. I forgot to mention that the Plantronics Voyager Pro I selected is definitely not what the cool kids are wearing, but it does have the best, most natural, sound clarity (by a mile) than other units we tried. We bought a Jawbone Hero to try. It’s quite small and chic, whereas the Plantronics is much larger (but very comfortable, plus it has a microphone on a thin boom. The Plantronics also has a volume control. At Best Buy, we met a guy who had a custom ear mold made for his Jawbone (which he loves). He rides motorcycles, and the ear mold ensures a solid fit that doesn’t wiggle around or fall out. Different strokes for different folks. ;}

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  5. Great tips! Thanks, from one who’s constantly turning up the volume on the television. Soon, I keep saying, soon ….
    I use a Plantronics headset for reporting, at my desk. I’ve had it for, I dunno, 12-15 years and it’s never failed me. It has a good volume control, and good tone. Nothing fancy, but reliable.

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  6. It’s funny how long-time couples balance each other. We used to have the same kinds of deficits as you and your husband, but lately we seem to be meeting in the middle–he now requires glasses, and my hearing isn’t so keen anymore. What’s really weird is that we can usually tell what the other one is thinking so those deficits don’t really matter. Sometimes, though, I have to concentrate really hard on happy thoughts to keep the peace. I’m glad you found a way to keep the sweet talk and romance going.

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  7. Isn’t it amazing how far technology has taken us. From downloading books, music or whatever amuses you in seconds, to being able to listen to that sweet voice whispering once again in our ear. Your cottage sounds like a great idea, I may have to start planning one myself.

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  8. I wrote about my nearsightedness today. It’s too severe for a drive or anything else, but Tim’s vision has been perfect, unless you count the recent need for reading glasses. Hearing challenges haven’t occurred yet for us – it’s good to know somebody’s working on all that. So happy for you and Buck to have a better audio connection.

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