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Hearing Technology

Hearing Technology Innovations

Nalley, Catlin

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doi: 10.1097/01.HJ.0000831184.07704.4c
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With ongoing innovation and technological advances, there is no shortage of new devices and resources at audiologists’ disposal. These tools have the potential to not only benefit patients, but also help the audiology community continue to grow and optimize the hearing care they provide. Below we discuss the features of just a few of the many new hearing technology innovations now available, all of which were named honorees in the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Innovation Awards.

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www.shutterstock.com. Hearing technology, hearing aids.

OTICON MYMUSIC PROGRAM

Typically, hearing aids have utilized the same sound processing for both speech and music. As a result, some of the nuances of music can be lost. Compared to speech, music has a larger dynamic and frequency range. There is also a difference across instrument types, ensemble, and compositional styles.

To address this challenge, MyMusic was developed, a music-oriented signal processing program that aims to capture and preserve music’s natural dynamics. “MyMusic uses a new strategy for amplification based on research on reference curves for music listening and research on how the music experience can be improved for hearing aid users,” explained Virginia Ramachandran, AuD, PhD, head of audiology at Oticon, Inc. “Adaptive processing allows the details to be preserved, while also ensuring comfort.

“There is more amplification in the highest and lowest frequencies, delivering better balance across frequencies. This ensures that differences between softer and louder components in music are preserved and natural dynamics are maintained,” she continued. “The music-oriented signal processing program captures the complex dynamics of music much better than attempting to apply ordinary speech processing strategies to music.”

This new technology was created to help individuals with hearing loss rediscover their love of music by overcoming a significant challenge with hearing aids—delivering excellent music sound quality, whether it’s live music or streamed directly from a device, according to Ramachandran.

“Using music-oriented signal processing strategies, such as an optimized compression scheme, and a new balancing of the notes, it captures the complex dynamics of music,” she told The Hearing Journal. “With Oticon MyMusic, people with hearing loss can once again enjoy their favorite music in all its nuances.”

Hearing care professionals can add MyMusic to Oticon More hearing aids in Oticon Genie 2. While the program adapts to the user’s hearing loss, it can also be fine-tuned separately for specific preferences. Hearing care professionals can add the MyMusic program for current Oticon More users by upgrading to the latest firmware.

REDUX PRO HEARING DEVICE DRYING SYSTEM

This professional, in-office hearing aid treatment system completely removes moisture from hearing aids, implants, and hearables in approximately eight minutes with real-time data verification.

The Redux system, which treats hearing aids at a temperature that is safe for rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries, creates a vacuum within its chamber to lower the evaporation point of water to room temperature. It then safely applies controlled heat to speed up the evaporation process without danger to the hearing instrument.

The internal humidity sensor measures and reports the amount of moisture removed during this cycle, explained Reuben Zielinski, president and co-founder of Redux. The process repeats until the sensor confirms that the chamber, and everything in it, is completely dry.

Given the improved performance of dry hearing aids, drying is a crucial aspect of routine care for every patient. Also, moisture in hearing aids is not seasonal and drying systems can improve patient hearing even in the driest climates and driest months. There is moisture present in 98% of all aids treated, according to Zielinski, who noted that audiologists have reported immediate improved performance in 77% of all devices treated with the Redux system.

“Redux helps practices improve the patient experience by keeping aids ​performing their best, in patients’ ears and out of a delivery truck. It also saves hours each week of diagnosing and treating aids damaged by moisture, resulting in more accurate testing and outcomes,” noted Zielinski. “Depending on how a practice operates, Redux is a proven revenue generating service to offer patients.”

SIGNIA AUGMENTED XPERIENCE (AX) & INSIO CHARGE&GO AX

Many individuals with hearing loss find it challenging to understand speech amid a noisy environment. This can have a negative impact on mental health, with evidence suggesting that those who struggle to hear speech can grow fatigued and withdraw from social situations.

“Signia’s Augmented Xperience (AX) hearing aid platform addresses these challenges by intelligently and automatically processing sound to better ensure that patients hear more clearly, regardless of the listening environment,” said Brian Taylor, AuD, senior director of audiology at Signia. “Rather than simply amplifying all sounds, Signia AX understands which sounds should be pulled to the foreground and prioritized, and which should remain softer in the background.”

This platform leverages the Augmented Focus™ technology that processes speech and background noise separately to create clear contrast between the two, according to Taylor. “It then recombines them to deliver outstanding speech clarity even in a fully immersive soundscape—like a crowded cafe or an open office environment,” he explained. “As a result, hearing aid wearers benefit from an enhanced hearing experience that’s better than normal in many noisy environments.”

Another new innovation is the Insio Charge&Go AX, a Bluetooth-capable, rechargeable, custom in-the-ear hearing aid based on the AX platform. Designed to support a wide range of lifestyles, this custom hearing aid offers a contactless charger. It also connects easily to iPhones and ASHA-compatible Android devices and features push-button control of smartphone functions.

Insio Charge&Go AX hearing aids come with the Signia app, which providers users with streaming capabilities, tinnitus therapy, 24/7 digital support, and remote care support. Wearers can also activate Face Mask Mode, which improves audibility when communicating with someone in a face mask.

Additionally, Insio Charge&Go AX can be programmed to give patients with tinnitus access to special notch therapy technology. This enables hearing care professionals to identify the specific pitch of a patient’s tinnitus and program a frequency notch into their hearing aids to match that pitch and suppress the tinnitus, explained Taylor.

“The Signia AX Platform and Insio Charge&Go AX hearing aids provide patients with best-in-class technology that drastically improves hearing, particularly in everyday noisy environments where there are often multiple sources of noise at once,” he said, when discussing the value of these technologies. “Studies have shown that Signia AX results in greater than 25% better speech understanding in noise compared to users’ own hearing aids. Additionally, 95% of study participants reported excellent speech understanding in their home environment.”

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