Apple wants hearing aids to seamlessly connect to various devices from the company, as noted by a newly granted patent (number 9,763,276). Hearing aid settings have to be adjusted in real time as the user experiences different audio environments.
Apple says it’s important for a hearing aid user to be able to easily control the settings of his hearing aid. However, to control most hearing aids, users have to either fumble through the small buttons on the hearing aids themselves, or carry a separate device specifically for controlling the hearing aid. This makes the control of the hearing aid rather cumbersome for most users, according to Apple.
The tech giant wants hearing aids to be able to easily sync with iOS, watchOS and macOS devices via the establishment of a “peripheral group,” which is formed by a process that allows devices in a network that are interested in a peripheral device to identify each other and to form a group for controlling the peripheral device.
In some cases, such an advertisement process starts when one or more host devices start to advertise themselves as being interested in the peripheral device. When one of these host devices has initially formed a pairing connection with the peripheral device, it announces itself to be the master of a group that includes all the devices that have advertised for the peripheral device over the network.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “A method for controlling a peripheral from a group of computing devices is provided. The method sets up a group of computing devices for providing media content and control settings to a peripheral device such as a hearing aid. The computing devices in the group are interconnected by a network and exchange data with each other regarding the peripheral.
“A master device in the group is directly paired with the peripheral device and can use the pairing connection to provide media content or to apply the control settings to the peripheral device. The peripheral device is paired with only the master devices of the group. A slave device can request to directly pair with the peripheral device and become the master device in order to provide media content to the peripheral.”
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.