New Hearing Aid Tech at #AAAConf19

Dr Cliff Interviews Six Hearing Technology Leaders

WRITTEN BY

David Copithorne

Content Director

05 April 2019

iPFor audiologists, the annual American Academy of Audiology (AAA) conference and expo is a great way to network with peers, absorb best practices, and have a little fun. For consumers, the expo is great way to see, touch, and experience the latest and greatest products from hearing tech startups and top hearing aid manufacturers.

For those who couldn't make this year's conference in Columbus, don’t worry, Dr. Cliff, AuD was on the scene, interviewing hearing aid technology leaders Phonak, Signia, Widex, and Oticon, and hearable startup Nuheara. He also got the scoop on ZPower’s silver-zinc rechargeable hearing aid batteries. He came back last week with six information-packed videos (also available on the Hearing Tracker’s YouTube Channel) to provide highlights from the expo.

Stylish Solution for iPhone and Bluetooth Connectivity

Signia Styletto Connect and Rechargeable CROS Interview -#AAAConf19

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Signia's fashionable, rechargeable Styletto hearing aids have been a hit with patients because of their unique, attractive design. Now there’s another compelling feature: Made-for-iPhone and Bluetooth connectivity. Tish Ramirez, Signia's Director Of Clinical Education, explains how the new Signia Styletto Connect family enables wireless stereo streaming of phone calls and music directly from the iPhone, as well as streaming from Android smartphones, other Bluetooth devices, and TVs via Signia's StreamLine Mic and StreamLine TV accessories. And that’s not all. For patients with single-sided deafness who want the convenience of rechargeable batteries, Signia also demonstrated a new CROS/biCROS option for its Signia Pure Charge&Go hearing aids.

Universal Bluetooth Connectivity (Finally)

Phonak Marvel hearing aids with universal Bluetooth connectivity - #AAAConf19

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Christine Jones, AuD, Director of the Phonak Audiology Research Center, tells Dr. Cliff why the new Phonak Marvel hearing aids have been such a success. By offering wireless streaming from any Bluetooth device to the hearing aids — without the need for an intermediate streamer — Phonak delivered an industry first that has proven popular with consumers.

We wanted a product that would work for everybody, regardless of what device they wanted to listen to.

Christine Jones, AuD, Phonak

But that's not all. Users are clamoring for the new rechargeable option: 80% of Marvels shipped now are rechargeable. The recent addition of a T-coil and integration of a Phonak Roger receiver for remote microphones has provided "universal public accessibility."

Machine Learning Hearing Aids

Widex EVOKE with SoundSounse Learn - Machine learning hearing aids - #AAAConf19

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Through AI-based machine learning, Widex Evoke hearing aids discern the best audio settings for various challenging listening environments. Oliver Townend, Head of Audiology Communication at Widex, explains how machine learning enables ongoing improvement in performance based on constant user inputs. And he also describes the technology behind the tiny Widex rechargeable fuel cell—a unique, new, environmentally friendly way to power hearing aids.

Retrofitted Rechargeable Hearing Aids

Dr Cliff talks with Anson Martin, Chief Commercial Officer at ZPower - #AAAConf19

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Anson Martin, Chief Commercial Officer of ZPower, says the company's key to success has been "easily retrofitting a non-rechargeable hearing aid and making it rechargeable." ZPower’s silver-zinc batteries feature high energy density in small form factors, making them well suited for small hearing aids. And ZPower has designed its hearing aid batteries to easily swap out with traditional zinc-air hearing aid batteries. There's another big benefit: while zinc-air non-rechargeable and lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aid batteries can create hazardous waste in landfills, ZPower's silver-zinc batteries are non-toxic and recyclable.

Better Hearing Before Hearing Aids

Nuheara - IQConnect, IQBuds Boost, IQstore, Ear ID - #AAAConf19

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Nuheara, maker of the IQ Buds Boost, made big progress in the past year. To find out more, Dr. Cliff interviewed Phil Davis, Nuheara's Chief Sales Officer, and Alan Davis, Vice President of Product. "People need to start taking care of their hearing health seven to ten years before they get a hearing aid—that's our sweet spot," Davis says.

We will monitor their hearing loss, and if it progresses, we will recommend they get a hearing aid.

Alan Davis, Nuheara

Among his revelations: customer surveys indicate approximately 20% of Nuheara customers are starting to experience hearing loss serious enough to step up to custom programmable hearing aids. And 72% have already had a hearing test.

The Next Generation of “BrainHearing”

Oticon Opn S - Improved feedback management and more gain - #AAAConf19

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Oticon took a big technological step forward when it introduced its Opn hearing aids with "BrainHearing" technology in 2016. And it's just taken another big step forward with its next-generation Opn technology, dubbed Opn S. Donald J. Schum, Oticon VP of Audiology, says Opn S provides a 30% improvement in comprehension in noisy environments over the first-generation Opn hearing aids. And he says new OpenSound Navigator technology provides 360-degree environmental sound while still improving speech comprehension.

"We didn't want a person to have to turn every time they wanted to listen in a particularly noisy environment," he says. Instead, the technology "allows a patient to perform better in these complex environments, but without that closing down of the sound scene."