Accessibility in tech is a big deal and so whenever a big name puts in an awesome new feature it’s worth talking about. The Amazon Fire TV Cube (2nd Gen) is becoming the first media streamer of its type to support audio streaming directly to hearing aids. Initially, the feature will be exclusive to Starkey’s Bluetooth hearing aids and will be known as ASHA (Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids).
Here’s a quick breakdown of what to expect:
- Customers with compatible Starkey hearing aids can connect directly to Fire TV Cube for private listening with audio delivered directly to the hearing aids.
- Hearing aids connect with Fire TV on a system level, so you can enjoy private audio from your favorite streaming services, apps, and games, as well as Alexa.
The key there is the system-level connectivity which means that all audio from the Fire TV Cube is getting sent to the hearing aid. Nothing is left out and it can be controlled with the Alexa TV remote, too. For all intents and purposes, it’s the exact same watching experience as everyone else gets. When you’re done, a simple shortcut behind the home button is all that’s needed to disconnect. Setting up the hearing aid support can be done in the accessibility section of the Fire TV Cube’s settings menu.
There are limitations, of course, this can’t really be used like wireless headphones where you could wander about the house without losing the signal. In this case, being within 10 feet and having a line of sight will give the best experience, alongside using 5GHz wireless.
Initially, the feature is limited to the devices listed below. But more hearing aids are expected to support ASHA in the future.
Compatible hearing aids
- Starkey: Evolv AI, Livio, Livio AI, Livio Edge AI
- Audibel: Arc AI, Via, Via AI, Vie Edge AI
- NuEar: Savant AI, Circa, Circa AI, Circa Edge AI
- MicroTech: Envy AI, Esentia, Esentia AI, Esentia Edge AI
This is a big step forward for accessibility on the Amazon Fire TV Cube and we can only hope that other manufacturers get involved, too.
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