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Amazon and Cochlear Collaborate to Make TV Watching More Inclusive for the Hearing Impaired

The News: Amazon and Cochlear recently announced a partnership that is intended to make the TV watching experience much more inclusive for the hearing impaired. The partnership will allow users watching Amazon select Fire TV devices to directly stream sound to their Cochlear hearing implants via the open-source Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA). See Amazon’s announcement about the collaboration here.

Amazon and Cochlear Collaborate to Make TV Watching More Inclusive for the Hearing Impaired

Analyst Take: The partnership between Amazon and Cochlear is another example of how Amazon continues to pursue the smart home of the future that is much safer, smarter, and inclusive for everyone. The new offering will allow users of Amazon’s select Fire TV devices (e.g., Fire TV Omni Series, etc.) the ability to stream sound directly from their Smart TV to their Cochlear hearing implants (e.g., Cochlear Nucleus 8, etc.) via the open-source Audio Streaming for Hearings Aids Support (ASHA) protocol. Having this option is a big step forward for hearing impaired users using implanted devices, as they can often experience missing words, echoing, or poor sound quality which the blog post alluded to.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.5 billion globally live with hearing loss and that figure may rise to 2.5 billion by 2050. In addition, with the prevalence of smartphones, better quality headphones, music streaming services, movie streaming, and gaming, there is also the risk of both younger and older generations developing hearing loss. People often have a tendency to immerse themselves in gaming, music, TV or movies, and inadvertently use higher volumes or decibel levels to tune out the world. This is also commonplace in the commercial market where people try to tune out noise due to open offices that can also be distracting. Ultimately, those higher volumes can also have a long-term detrimental effect to hearing down the road.

The Amazon and Cochlear partnership is not Amazon’s first foray into the market to address solutions for the hearing impaired. Last spring, the company teamed up with Starkey that allowed its Bluetooth hearing aids to pick up audio streaming from its Fire TV Cube 2nd generation.

The partnership between Amazon and Cochlear is another example of the company seeking to make the smart home and its associated devices much more inclusive for its users by partnering with key medical device manufacturers for the hearing impaired. I expect to see more such partnerships in the future, given what I know about Amazon’s commitment to inclusivity.

Disclosure: Futurum Research is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of Futurum Research as a whole.

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Image Credit: Amazon

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