Yuma, Arizona (NAPSI) - A tiny new device may make a big difference for the estimated 36 million Americans who live with some type of hearing loss. This same device may also prompt more baby boomers to join the digital world.

This is hopeful news, since the stigma attached to hearing loss still keeps many people from addressing a condition that can cause them to withdraw from the people and activities they once enjoyed.

Beltone First is the first hearing aid able to link directly to an iPhone®, iPad® or iPod touch® and represents what’s described as a revolutionary advance that could dramatically increase the number of people who take action to address their hearing loss. It’s hoped the device can allow patients to restore not only their hearing, but their quality of life as well.

“Beltone First enables the hearing impaired to seamlessly integrate the features of their smartphones in a remarkably discreet package,” says Todd Murray, president of Beltone North America.

According to Murray, users can leverage their iPhone® to customize audio settings and stream audio directly to their hearing aid—without the need for an intermediary device, overcoming a common source of stigma among current and potential hearing aid users.

An iPhone®, iPad® or iPod touch® takes the place of that additional remote control, making it nearly impossible to distinguish a hearing aid wearer from anyone else. With a capability developed in collaboration with Apple®, Beltone users are able to directly stream phone calls, music, movies, turn-by-turn navigation and more directly to their ears. The link is established through Bluetooth® Smart technology, with the hearing aids functioning like wireless earbuds that are also high-quality hearing aids.

Beltone First’s function goes beyond streaming audio. Users can customize their hearing experience via an app, which effortlessly adjusts volume and treble/bass mix, and even takes advantage of an iPhone’s® geotagging capabilities to save specific settings for when wearers return to different acoustic environments like their homes, offices or favorite restaurants.

A “Find My Hearing Aid” function uses a Bluetooth-linked “hot and cold” function to help users pinpoint hearing aids when they’re misplaced.

Beltone First is available at more than 1,500 hearing care centers nationwide. More information can be found at the website www.BeltoneFirst.com.