Frequency Asked Questions about Lithium-Ion Batteries in Hearing Aids
- Is a lithium-ion battery safe in hearing aids?
Lithium-ion is the popular rechargeable battery choice used in many everyday consumer electronics such as cellular phones and tablets. It is also the rechargeable solution for cochlear implants. Currently, it is the fastest growing and most promising battery technology and has been thoroughly tested. Note that the hearing aid must be stored within the operating temperature of 33 degs to 104 degs Fahrenheit (0 degs to +40 degs Celsius) to ensure safe conditions.
- How many hours per day can lithium-ion hearing aids last on a single charge?
This depends on the hearing loss, the power of the receiver, and the amount of streaming. However, this usually ranges from 20 hours to 24 hours.
- Will the performance of the lithium-ion battery deteriorate after 1 year and require replacing?
No. With the Phonak system, the electronics surrounding the lithium-ion battery have been specially designed so that the battery will last up to 4 years. After 4 years, the performance of the battery may deteriorate slightly, but this should not have a large impact on use.
- Are lithium-ion hearing aids safe to use during air travel?
Yes. Airline rules state that lithium-ion batteries less than 25 grams may be brought on to the plane in carry-on luggage. Phonak rechargeable hearing aid batteries are less than 1 gram and therefore fall far below the dangerous goods level. Commercial airline regulations do not permit lithium-ion batteries to be placed in checked luggage.
- How do I dispose of a lithium-ion hearing aid?
Lithium-ion batteries are 100% recyclable and can be used to create new products. If you wish to dispose of the hearing aid, please return it to your audiologist or contact Phonak for more information.
The Phonak Belong Platform: An Overview
Last week Phonak launched their ‘Made for All’ direct connect hearing aid, the Audeo B-Direct. Using a new proprietary 2.4 GHz radio chip these devices allow users to stream phone calls directly to any cell phone with Bluetooth without an intermediary device. Current technology from other hearing aid manufacturers allows only users of an Apple phone the ability to stream phone calls. The Made for All technology will allow Android, iOS or other Bluetooth cell phone users access to hands-free phone use. By utilizing built-in microphones as a voice pick-up feature, the Audeo B-Direct is able to function like a wireless Bluetooth headset. Once a phone call is received by the user, they are able to answer calls with a push of a button on the hearing aid. At this time, streaming of the phone call is only heard on the user’s preferred side, not to both devices. Patients will also have the ability to balance environment noise when background noise is present by either using the volume control on their phone or directly on their hearing aids. Using a streaming protocol called AirstreamTM Technology, the new TV Connecter from Phonak offers a “plug and play” solution that turns Audeo B-Direct hearing aids into wireless TV headphones. This device allows users to stream content from their TV without having to wear a body-worn streamer and is capable of streaming to multiple hearing aid wearers at the same time.
Virto B Biometric Calibration:
Another recent launch from Phonak is the use of Biometric Calibration in Virto B custom hearing aids. Using 3-D modeling software 1,600 biometric data points are identified from an earmold impression and are used to calculate calibration settings that are unique to each user. This technology allows individual ear anatomy and its effects on the acoustics of the incoming sound to be accounted for which provides a 2dB improvement in directionality. Another available option is the Virto B- Titanium invisible in the ear (IIC) option, which is made from medical grade titanium. Titanium is stronger and thinner than acrylic, allowing for significantly reduced device size.
Audeo B-R and Bolero-PR Rechargeable Options:
Phonak continues to offer a built-in rechargeable device option (Audeo B-R and Bolero B-PR). With a single charge, the device is powered for up to 24 hours. Smart charging options are also available, which allow on the go users to charge from anywhere, without having to worry about running out of power.
If you or someone you love is noticing hearing difficulties and would like to discuss hearing aid options, contact The Hearing Center at JHBI at (904) 399-0350 ext 246 to schedule an appointment to speak with an Audiologist about your options!
Phonak Audeo BR
In September 2016, Phonak, one of the major global manufacturers of hearing aids, released its next generation of hearing aid technology. The new product line features the Audeo BR, the first hearing aid to house a built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery. Currently, the rechargeable option is only available in RIC (receiver in the canal) technology. To learn more about styles of hearing aids, see our previous blog post on the topic https://www.betterhearingjax.com/hearing-technology/our-hearing-aids/hearing-aid-types-styles/.
The Phonak Audeo BR boasts 24 hours of hearing with a full charge, and the ability to reach a full charge within three hours. In addition, the 20 minute fast-charging option is able to provide up to 6 hours of immediate use. With a rechargeable hearing aid comes freedom from changing disposable batteries every 4-10 days, making hearing aids significantly more accessible to patients with dexterity issues or arthritis. The new technology is also environmentally friendly and significantly reduces the number of disposable batteries that are thrown away each year. The Audeo BR offers several charging options, from full size to mini, including the portable charger case which is able to provide power for seven full charges of two hearing aids when no power source is available.
If you, or someone you know, might be interested in a rechargeable hearing aid option, the audiologists at JHBI would be happy to show you what technology is available right now. Please visit our websites, betterhearingjax.com or jhbi.org, for more information on the practice or to schedule an appointment. To schedule an appointment by phone, please call 904-399-0350.