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Amazon Fire TV Launches Audio Streaming To Cochlear Hearing Implants

The feature is available now for many Fire TV models

Those experiencing hearing loss will now be able to stream audio from their Amazon Fire TVs directly to their Cochlear hearing implants. This monumental solution takes advantage of the open-source Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA) protocol, and represents the next step in Amazon’s effort to make entertainment more accessible to those who are hard of hearing.

This new advancement marks the first time a smart TV will stream audio directly to an implant processor, and makes several different types of media more accessible, including podcasts and audio books that are streamable via a Fire TV.

The collaboration with Cochlear is the latest way Peter Korn, director of accessibility for Amazon Devices, and Amazon’s accessibility teams have helped bring more accessible technologies to market. They’ve also helped bring to customers more than 12 million screen reader-supported Kindle books, and thousands of Prime Video titles with audio descriptions that describe on-screen visuals for people who are blind and visually impaired.

“When we talked to customers who use hearing aids, audiologists, and other experts in the field, the majority told us that the first thing you really want if you’ve got hearing loss is to be able to hear clearly the people around you,” Korn said. “The second thing you want is the ability to hear the television, to enjoy entertainment.”

Seeing an opportunity to solve a problem for customers, Korn’s team jumped on the chance to work with Cochlear. They found a way to bypass the implant’s microphones, stream audio from Fire TV directly into the implants, and prevent the audio from being degraded by noise and echoes.

“We send the audio in little packets over to the hearing device. The hearing device acknowledges receipt of those packets of audio, and then more are sent, and so on,” Korn said. “We also did the work to ensure that this protocol works over living room distances.” This means customers can sit within 10 feet or 3 meters of their TV and continue to enjoy entertainment.

Cochlear has configured direct streaming from Fire TV to the Cochlear Nucleus 8, Nucleus 7, Nucleus Kanso 2, and Baha 6 Max sound processors. With ASHA, sound processors connect directly with the Fire TV device, so customers can enjoy audio from their favorite streaming apps, use Alexa, listen to music, hear navigational sounds, and more.

ASHA-enabled Fire TV devices include: Fire TV Omni QLED Series, Fire TV Omni Series, Fire TV 4-Series, Fire TV Cube (3rd Gen), and Fire TV Cube (2nd Gen).

Learn about pairing hearing aids with Fire TV devices, as well as more about Amazon Accessibility.


See also: Sony Electronics Launches A New Retinal Projection Camera Kit To Help The Visually Impaired