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Starkey Laboratories Debuts Bluetooth Device for the Hearing Impaired

Starkey Laboratories, one of the worlds leading hearing technology companies, today introduced ELI (Ear Level Instrument), the first-ever device that turns hearing aids into wireless headsets. A Bluetooth-enabling device, ELI is the only product of its kind designed to provide wireless connections between hearing aid wearers and the growing assortment of Bluetooth-compatible devices. The innovative new product is currently profiled in Time magazines Coolest Inventions issue.

Our mission at Starkey is not only to research, design and develop hearing devices that improve virtually any hearing impairment but to actually improve the lives of those who are hearing impaired, said Jerry Ruzicka, president of Starkey Laboratories. ELI is a shining example of this as it is the first product of its kind to eliminate the interference hearing instrument wearers encounter when using portable devices like cell phones. In essence, ELI offers the hearing impaired the ability at long last to be wireless.

According to Ruzicka, industry research indicates that hearing instrument wearers report excellent results with their hearing devices in normal listening situations but poorer results when they use the phone, for example, which can create feedback, static, and poor hearing instrument signal strength. When used with Bluetooth-enabled phones, ELI automatically overrides the hearing instruments microphone signal, essentially turning the instrument into a wireless cell phone headset. This dramatically improves the instruments sound quality and clarity while eliminating feedback and static problems.

Those of us who are not hearing impaired have been reaping the benefits of a wireless society for years we talk on our cell phones, retrieve email messages and even watch movies while hands-free and on the go, Ruzicka continued. Why should the hearing impaired be denied these same opportunities? Simply put, they shouldn't be, and thanks to ELI, they no longer are.

ELI, the first in what will be a complete line of wireless applications from Starkey, is currently designed for behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing instruments and simply attaches to the base of the hearing instrument. ELI requires no power from the hearing instrument. Rather, it is powered by its own rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Each charge offers 140 hours in stand-by mode or 2.5 hours of continuous use. ELI is Bluetooth, CE and FCC-compliant and has no line-of-sight requirements.

Bluetooth wireless technology is revolutionizing the personal connectivity market by providing freedom from wired connections. It is the worlds most widely used specification for a low-cost radio solution providing two-way radio or data streaming links between mobile computers, mobile phones and other portable handheld devices, and connectivity to the Internet.

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