So it’s not shocking that it’s a novel technology that’s forcing us to re-evaluate how we embrace the aging process. And one of the technologies helping us rethink how we age is Bluetooth connectivity.
It’s funny because Bluetooth is not itself a new technology. Your phone uses Bluetooth to connect to your house speakers or your car stereo. Bluetooth is commonly found in home security systems, thermostats, and even refrigerators.
The technology itself enables various devices to connect to each other on a discrete network over small distances. That way,, your fridge can send a message to your phone when you’re out of milk. (Your fridge knows when you’re running low on milk; don’t ask how, it just knows.)
It’s that connectivity between devices–and the way it can be used to improve quality of life–that’s changing how we think about aging.
Connectivity for your hearing aids
For a long time, there was no better metaphor for aging than a hearing aid: a large, clunky device that marked you as advancing in years. But those days are gone.
That’s because many hearing aids now have Bluetooth connectivity. This has a practical application, making certain daily tasks like phone calls easier. But there’s a mental effect as well: hearing aids are now just seen as devices–a simple digital technology to improve your life no different than, say, your iPhone.
With Bluetooth connectivity, hearing aids officially become sleek, high-tech gizmos–and we love gizmos!
What can a Bluetooth-enabled hearing aid do?
Modern hearing aids tend to be quite small, often smaller even than your standard iPhone earbuds. Someone wearing Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids could:
- Connect your hearing aids directly to your phone.
- Connect your hearing aid to your mobile device so you can listen to music through your hearing aids (as you would through headphones).
- Connect your hearing aids to your television so you can hear every word of dialog (even the commercials).
- Be able to hear alerts and reminders you set up through your phone.
Essentially, you could do anything with your hearing aids that you’re able to do with any other Bluetooth-enabled device. Eventually, your fridge could even tell you that you’re out of milk through your hearing aid.
Changing how we think about aging
It’s a small thing (literally), but Bluetooth-connected devices such as hearing aids really are changing the way we think about aging. First and foremost, technology is being used to increase the quality of life and comfort as we age. So we’re thinking more about what we can do instead of what we can’t.
Second, we’re finally coming around to the idea that just because you age doesn’t mean you somehow become less technologically savvy or that you somehow slow down.
Incorporating Bluetooth technology into something like a hearing aid is a proclamation that you can remain vital, intelligent, and wise even as you put more candles on your birthday cake.
The future is just around the corner
This, I suspect, is just the first salvo in a trend that will continue for some time. None of us, as we age, want to lose any connection with what’s happening around us. We want to stay connected to each other and, in a very real way, to our devices.
Bluetooth connectivity in a hearing aid might sound trivial–but only if you’ve never had to have a conversation on the phone while wearing a hearing aid! To be sure, the technology in a hearing aid is significantly more advanced than in a pair of standard off-the-shelf headphones.
But when we turn hearing aids into devices–into cool gizmos–we can rethink some of the more outdated stereotypes we hold about aging and about hearing aids. Bluetooth technology can help us think of aging in terms of what we can do. And that can help us all become better connected. (By the way, your refrigerator tells me you might be out of milk.)