This is a good article that highlighted both the opportunity and the problem with Bluetooth technology in full human augmentation. There is a whole lot going on in the world of prosthetics that wouldn’t necessarily be apparent to ordinary, casual ear bud users. Everything you suggest is in the early stages of daily use for people (and there are many) with hearing problems. This is covered in another comment thread here starting from a request to integrate hearing correction in the devices. That jumped easily to Bluetooth problems with current hearing aids primarily, I think, on the issue of battery drain due to Bluetooth continuous handshaking. Let me triangulate this from the perspective of those of us with cochlear implants.

Briefly there are two types of cochlear implants, the most basic uses bone conductance to transmit sound to the cochlear nerves (inner ear). This is achieved with an embedded titanium pin that connects to an external sound processor through an embedded magnet (newer) or by clipping directly to the pin that protrudes through the skin. The electronics include Bluetooth remote controls that allow up to five devices to be connected. I’ve had the newer type for about eighteen months and have learned a lot about the things that you discuss.

Being that connected can drive you nuts. I fortunately lost me remote control and decided not to replace it for many of the issues that you mentioned. The biggest problem was signaling delays on Bluetooth 3.x that made my phone’s smart notifications too fast for my sound processor to handle. This was purely a technical issue and may have been caused by the phone I was using at the time. The real trouble was caused by configuring the right quantity of information plus dealing with the dominance of aural information’s ability to distract you. Music as background is great, with that being provided to your “third” ear your, dependent in hearing loss, bio ears can track the external world normally. This is really a case of true augmentation as you are not losing any normal sense but adding a fully independent information channel. Adding alert tones and voice alerts from your phone to full background sound introduced me to serious information loading that requires planning and active management.

So everything you mentioned is, potentially, even more so than you thought. This has made me very interested in extending this conversation so I will put this together in a separate post and explore the hearing tags. Because of my implant I’ve realized I am no longer challenged but, in fact, exploring advanced aural information processing.

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Educator, CIO, retired entrepreneur, grandfather with occasional fits of humor in the midst of disaster. . .

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