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New Cochlear hearing implant tech will stream directly from iPhones & other Apple devices

An upcoming Cochlear sound processor —the Nucleus 7 —will reportedly let people stream audio directly to hearing implants from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Until now, Cochlear users wanting that convenience have had to wear a special Bluetooth accessory alongside their processor, Reuters said on Wednesday. The Nucleus 7 is due to ship in September —buyers will be able to upgrade without installing a new implant.

Apple has worked on protocols for hearing aid makers in the past, most notably Starkey and GN ReSound. The company's director of global accessibility policy —Sarah Herrlinger —told Reuters that implants have presented a special challenge, since audiologists may not prescribe matching implants and/or hearing aids.

"We had to figure out how you could do a bi-modal solution where you're able to simultaneously pair, control and hear both of them running at the same time," Herrlinger said.

Apple has placed a comparatively high value on accessibility technologies. The Apple Watch, for instance, offers a special wheelchair mode, which changes up labels and features in the Activity and Workout apps.