Amazon has partnered with Cochlear to improve the Fire TV audio accessibility experience. According to Amazon, this partnership marks the first time that people with hearing loss can stream sound from their Amazon smart TVs directly to their Cochlear hearing implants.
The solution has been made possible through the use of Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA). Essentially, this open-source protocol allows Cochlear Nucleus 8, Nucleus 7, Nucleus Kanso 2, and Baha 6 Max sound processors to connect to select Fire TV devices and directly stream the audio from them.
Amazon announced Fire TV Cube and Fire TV Omni Series ASHA support for compatible Starkey Bluetooth hearing aids in 2022, making this latest Cochlear announcement more of an expansion of manufacturer and device support rather than a completely new development.
A hearing implant connection can be manually established through the Accessibility section of the settings. The Fire TV device searches for nearby hearing aids and then pairs with them like it would any other Bluetooth-enabled device. The software is also capable of pairing a second hearing aid (for the other ear) if needed.
Once connected to a Cochlear hearing implant, the technology makes it possible to more clearly hear videos that are playing through streaming apps, stream music, hear interface and navigational sounds while using Fire TV, and also make better use of Amazon’s voice and virtual assistant, Alexa.
At present, however, Fire TV device compatibility is a little limited and mainly reserved for Amazon’s smart TVs. For example, the Fire TV 4-Series, Fire TV Omni Series, and Fire TV Omni QLED Series are all now officially listed as ASHA-enabled Fire TV devices. In terms of actual players, only the Fire TV Cube (2nd Gen) and Fire TV Cube (3rd Gen) are currently listed as ASHA-enabled.