Oticon has just released its answer to the bluetooth era hearing aid solutions. They have come up with a new processing chip to communicate to the Apple iPhone directly. I'm impressed by the goals being set by this new processing chip - the Oticon representative has shown me a little of what the hearing devices are going to change in the sound processing level as well as the new functions of the bluetooth device.
The new technology is designed to be able to focus on speech-based input and reduce ambient noises in tough situations, throwing away the old concept of directional microphones where we listen to what is just in front of us and reduce the sounds on either side and behind us. Clearly, this traditional method of noise management is limited in its success since we often have people speaking to us on our side or talking behind us in noisy restaurants or when out doing activities such as golf, exercise, or other activities when we are moving around.
This new concept will hopefully help the individual in a large meeting hear the people sitting behind or beside him who are talking quietly while also catching the louder conversation of the main speaker.
In the next several weeks, I will test the hearing devices in multiple noise situations as well as utilizing the new bluetooth platform and IFTTT (If This Then That) functionality. Keep checking for an update on the actual performance of these hearing devices.
I have been wearing some Widex Unique 440 Passion hearing devices for the last six months. Being an audiologist with a significant hearing loss has given me a unique chance to hear exactly what the latest hearing technology has to offer. The new offering from Widex has a lot of great features about it.
#1: It actually reduces soft background noise.
I cannot tell you how often the past hearing aids have amplified every single soft sound that is present in any environment. I've always taken this negative as an expected part of getting all the clarity in speech. When you wear hearing aids, you realize that hearing aids can't always sort out the useful information from the less beneficial information. That has changed with the Widex devices. In my office, there is a soft wind noise from the air conditioner that is always present. With these devices, I find that it fades into almost nothing compared to many other brands.
#2: It makes speech in a restaurant or crowded room clear.
This is the first complaint of many patients with hearing loss. "I have a hard time in a crowded situation." I've worn hearing aids for over 20 years, but with these I have been so much less strained when I'm in a group setting. The person's voice is always more clear than the noise surrounding us.
#3: Music in a car sounds great, no matter how loud the drive is.
I do a lot of driving every day. I'm often in the car for 2 hours or more in a day, so my music situation in the car is essential. I've often had that experience with hearing aids that the loudness of the music reaches the ceiling of the hearing aid's input dynamic range, and then the sound becomes distorted and ugly, while the car road noise is still rumbling in the background. With Widex's unique sound modes, they sense the road noise, turn it down, and keep the sound of the music coming in clear and crisp with a much higher maximum input allowed into the processor. This has created a much more comfortable driving experience, and I no longer have to turn down the radio to hear it in the background when driving.
#4: I do not get discomfort behind my ear from the hearing aid after a long day.
With all Receiver in the ear (RITE) and Behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids, the weight of the hearing aid can start to fatigue the back of your ear when worn for 10 or more hours during the day. This is a common experience I've grown accustomed to, since I wear my devices from 6am until 9 at night. But with these tiny RITE hearing aids, I've never felt that ache at the back of my ears after a long day. And I wear glasses as well! This is a huge plus for me, and it makes wearing the devices a joy.
Overall, these hearing aids have helped me to feel more confident about my hearing in a multitude of environments. And I highly recommend the quality of the sound to patients. If you have any questions regarding the technology, be sure to give me a call or write a note. Happy hearing!
Widex has been using the Dream processing strategy for the last few years, so we are happy to see a new hearing aid generation reach the market this week. The Widex Unique hearing devices were just released. After perusing the software for a while, I've found a few key perks in the new software that I've not seen in other hearing aid manufacturer processing strategies.
Widex has made their new software with both audibility of speech and comfort of noise without speech in mind. These two things are often hard to give to a hearing aid user, because we are always having to sacrifice clarity of conversations for comfort in noisy and non-speech environments. The image below indicates my ability to change the loudness of sound presented to the wearer based on speech versus non-speech stimuli.
The great news about this new technology update is that we are able to separately improve a specific situation for a patient without lessening her ability to understand speech. Therefore, when a patient reports difficulty with too much road noise in the car, I can minimize the gain of the hearing devices in the car when speech is not present, while still leaving voices clear and crisp when the patient is riding in a car with friends or family. This will greatly impact my ability to improve sound quality for patients with more ease and precision.
In the next couple weeks, I will give these new hearing devices a try and see what Widex Unique has to offer patients. Return to the blog in a few weeks to get my take as a hearing impaired audiologist on the new hearing technology.
We currently have a pair of demo Widex Unique hearing devices in the office. If you would rather give these a try now, we are happy to give you a chance to wear them for a week trial and see if they give you the benefit in all the environments you're in. Call now at 855-547-8369 to get on the list for a week trial of the new Widex Unique hearing devices.
Oticon is a company that has been around for over 100 years. As they have improved methods of processing amplification, they've become an industry leader in research and development of natural sounding hearing devices with sophisticated noise management. Oticon is known for their sleek devices today, including the Alta2 Pro designRITE hearing device. Their latest iteration of the Inium platform has been focused on the brain and how our brains take in amplified sound.
This new platform, the Inium Sense platform, is designed to help patients hear soft speech more accurately than before. They do this by increasing the soft high frequency gain and moderate loudness high frequency gain. As an audiologist, I find this to be a beneficial addition due to the common complaint of patients with hearing loss noting that they struggle to hear soft talkers or those people who will talk to them while facing away or in another room. The goal of this technology is to give further range and catch the whispers of family, friends, and colleagues as well as the plain speech. The actual changes can be seen below in the screen grabs when decreasing, then increasing the soft speech perception controls.
Soft speech perception- reduced sensitivity:
Soft speech perception- increased sensitivity:
As seen above, the soft gain at the bottom of the screen is increased while the moderate sounds and loud sounds are not changed at all. This increase in the soft sounds can have many different effects, including hearing the soft noises like the scuffling of feet, the air conditioner, and the refrigerator in your home.
As with all technology, the biggest decision is to balance the audibility and clarity needed with the comfort of the quality sound desired.
If you have any questions about the options for this Oticon technology, feel free to give me a call and we can discuss the technology: 855-547-8369
Today we will discuss the hearing device options released as of now by Phonak. Phonak is a hearing device company that prides itself on the latest in high frequency hearing loss as well as Bluetooth technology.
High Frequency Hearing Loss
If you have any interest in learning more about the Phonak Venture line of hearing devices and Bluetooth technology, you can visit their website at www.phonakusa.com or call for an appointment to discuss technology at (855)547-8369.