How does Unitron Moxi All incorporate Bluetooth technology and 2.4 GHz for a hands-free solution? What is the difference between the two?
Great question, let's talk about the technology behind hands-free solutions. Almost all phones made in the last 10 years have something called the Bluetooth Hands-Free Profile that can be used for phone calls with Bluetooth headsets. Unitron uses this same Bluetooth Hands-Free Profile to make phones work directly with the Moxi All hearing instruments. In the hearing aid industry we are using terms such as direct connectivity, Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz. Let's define these terms, how they relate to hearing aids in general, and how they relate directly to Moxi All.
First, you may be wondering if 2.4 GHz and Bluetooth are the same thing, as you may have heard people use these terms interchangeably. The answer to that is no, not exactly. Bluetooth uses 2.4 GHz. Bluetooth is a standard wireless communication protocol. It's a "language" that lets multiple devices talk to each other wirelessly. Bluetooth protocols use the 2.4 GHz as the method to transmit or communicate that language between the devices. We can think about 2.4 GHz as the Latin alphabet, or the ABCs. The alphabet is a set of letters used to encode information to share between people. The English language uses the ABCs, and English is a standard communication protocol that uses the Latin alphabet. Similarly, French, Spanish, Dutch, and German are other languages or protocols that use the Latin alphabet to encode and communicate information. In the same way the English language uses letters to convey the information, the Bluetooth "language" (or protocol) uses 2.4 GHz to communicate information. Another analogy we can use is to compare the 2.4 GHz as being a highway, and Bluetooth is a mode of transportation (e.g., the car, bus, or taxi) that helps get the information along the highway from one destination to another.
Hearing Aid Protocols
There are a number of protocols that are used in hearing aid technology today.
- Proprietary Protocols: These are protocols specific to a particular manufacturer. Proprietary protocols are used by our competitors for accessories and ear-to-ear data communication.
- Apple Protocol: Competitor MFi (Made for iPhone) products that communicate to the phone using an Apple-patented technology, allowing one-way audio transmission from the phone to the hearing instruments.
- Bluetooth LE: Bluetooth Low Energy is only used for transmitting data (e.g., wireless programming of hearing instruments), not audio information.
- Bluetooth Classic: Available on almost every Bluetooth audio device, Bluetooth classic is ideal for connecting cell phones to Bluetooth headsets for phone calls. Unitron's new MFa (made for all) solution, the new Moxi All product, uses Bluetooth Classic.
- AirStream Technology: AirStream technology is a proprietary Sonova protocol, which is used for high quality stereo streaming of music or other audio signals via the TV Connector accessory.
The new Moxi All RIC hearing instrument has the SWORD chip inside. SWORD stands for the Sonova Wireless One Radio Digital chip. The SWORD chip allows us to leverage multiple communication protocols, all using the 2.4 GHz technology. Having all these capabilities on one chip with one radio antennae means that our hearing instruments can be kept as small as possible. There's no need to sacrifice size for performance. We also don't need to have an extra accessory for Android phones, because we're using the Bluetooth Classic Hands-Free Profile (HFP). This allows us to be compatible with smartphones and traditional mobile phones that have a compatible Bluetooth HFP. We also get achieve quality streaming using the AirStream technology with the TV Connector.
This Ask the Expert is an excerpt from the CEU course, Spring 2018 - Introduction to New Product and Technology Innovations. Click the link on the course title to register and view the course. For more information, visit www.unitron.com or visit Unitron's Partner Page on AudiologyOnline.