Like many technical fields, audiology is rife with acronyms. Many are identical to those used in other fields, to the consternation of anyone trying to learn them. Take “REM” or “CIC,” for example. Recently, a new acronym has begun to make inroads in audiology, or at least in the area of hearing aids: “MFi.” An abbreviation for “Made for iPhone®/iPod®/iPad®,” MFi is a licensing program from Apple for developers of hardware and software peripherals that work with their iOS devices (iOS is the proprietary operating system for Apple devices). It means that an electronic accessory has been designed to connect specifically to iPhone and has been certified by the developer to meet Apple performance standards.
Manufacturers who join this program are allowed to display related logos on their products. When speaking of hearing aids, these “peripherals” may be accessory devices that communicate with iOS devices, or they may be the hearing aids themselves.
Does it matter that hearing aids or hearing aid accessories can connect to smart devices? After all, the majority of hearing aid users and candidates are older individuals. It is common to assume that people in this group are non-users of electronic “gadgets.” As an illustration of this in popular culture, the host of an evening talk show recently riffed on the news that hearing aids could now connect to the iPhone, joking “Now, if hearing aid users only knew what an iPhone was.”
However, recent data on usage of smart phones and tablets points to two important trends among older individuals. One is simply that ownership of these devices is growing rapidly year-over-year. The other is that a significant percentage of older individuals already own smart phones or tablets. One in five clients over the age of 70 is likely to be a smart phone user and an even greater proportion will have tablets. These numbers suggest that many hearing aid candidates will find it relevant that their hearing aids can communicate with smart devices regardless of their age.
This content was originally published on Aubankaitis.com on May 7, 2014.
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