Starkey Paves New Road for AI Revolution in Hearing Aids with Genesis AI Launch
Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the world, and Starkey believes its new Genesis AI hearing aid—and the chip platform that powers it—will define AI-assisted hearing healthcare for years to come. Completely “reimagined from the inside out,” Starkey says its new flagship Genesis AI hearing aid family features all new everything—including a new processor, sound experience, form factor, fitting software, and user app and controls.
HearingTracker Audiologist Matthew Allsop provides a preview of the new Starkey Genesis AI hearing aid. Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.
“I like to say you can’t cling to the past if you want to create the future,” said Starkey CEO Brandon Sawalich in his opening remarks at Tuesday’s launch event attended by over 3000 people online, as well as hearing care professionals (HCPs) and employees at the company’s headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minn. Sawalich described Starkey’s latest innovation as a 5-year journey from the company’s Livio AI and Evolv AI hearing aids to the all-new Genesis AI platform that will help reimagine how hearing aids not just help people hear better, but also assist them in getting more out of what they want in life.
“Today and moving forward, Starkey product development begins by pushing the edge of what's possible: what's possible with technology, what's possible with people, and what's possible when the best of those two things unite,” said Sawalich. “And what's possible is caring technology. Technology with friendly AI that thinks, learns, and adapts just like the human mind does. Technology for personal health and well-being…Today we announced the smartest most intuitive product that patients deserve. It's a new beginning here. It's an all-new everything.”
Starkey CEO Brandon Sawalich and CTO Achin Bhowmik at the Genesis AI hearing aid launch event in Minneapolis.
All-new everything starts with the powerful Starkey Neuro Processor
Achin Bhowmik, PhD, Starkey’s chief technology officer who had previously been the VP of the Perceptual Computing Group at Intel Corporation, has played a pivotal role in developing Starkey’s AI-assisted hearing technology. Signing on with Starkey in 2016, he and his team quickly introduced Livio AI in 2018, a hearing aid that included several “firsts” like onboard motion sensors, fall detection, and real-time language translation.
“Today, we bring to you the Starkey Neuro Processor, our industry's most advanced processor technology,” said Bhowmik. “The determining factor of processing power in the human brain is the neuron. In processor chips, it's the transistor. Based on advanced semiconductor technology, the Starkey Neuro Processor features 600% more transistors than our previous-generation chipset.” By contrast, he says the latest generation of smartphones had a 6% increase in transistors over the previous generation.
The Starkey Neuro Processor is designed to operate more efficiently and quietly, with speeds 4 times faster than that found in Evolv AI, allowing it to make 80 million automatic adjustments per hour. The new chip has 5 times more computational memory and 10 times the amount of non-volatile memory—all of which can be used to set the stage for new innovations and strategies in sound processing, both in the present product launch and the near future.
In a subsequent conversation, both Sawalich and Bhowmik were clear that more will be added to the Genesis AI family although they were not at liberty to provide details. “AI demands power; it demands memory,” says Bhowmik. In other words, a company needs a powerful processing platform to grow and accommodate new innovations if it wishes to stay ahead.
New sound processing technology
Getting more specific, however, the success of any advanced hearing aid today relies on how the device responds and sounds in numerous listening situations. Genesis AI has widened the wide dynamic range of Starkey hearing aids by 20 dB and offers what the company describes as a transparent listening experience in quiet and noisy environments.
Starkey Genesis AI components.
“We have built the deep neural network (DNN) engine accelerator right into the newer processor,” says Bhowmik. “It's a computational hardware block in the chip that is architected like the cerebral cortex of the human brain. This onboard AI engine enhances speech and suppresses noise like the healthy human auditory cortex does. Powered by these amazing technologies, the all-new Starkey Neuro Processor is the industry's most advanced technology.”
One component in the processing is Starkey’s new EdgeMode+. This multi-dimensional system synthesizes sound signals using concurrent slow- and fast-acting (compression) processing engines, mimicking how the human brain processes different types of sound. Working with the company’s new eStat 2.0 proprietary fitting formula, Bhowmik says the new system provides 10 times faster noise reduction. Importantly, EdgeMode+ also gives you the ability to select listening comfort over speech clarity. It defaults to an AI-driven “Best Sound” option when you select neither.
Engineered for extended battery life and durability
Hearing aid battery life has become a critical issue in customer satisfaction, ranking high in importance alongside sound quality and hearing in noise. With all the advanced sound processing and audio streaming, today's hearing aid designs stretch the limits of battery capacity and energy conservation. Additionally, lithium-ion battery technology—the same battery chemistry used in smartphones—is known to lose its rechargeability over time.
Genesis AI and recharging station.
Starkey Chief Innovation Officer David Fabry, PhD, told the audience the new Genesis RIC RT has a battery life of up to 51 hours. “Rechargeable batteries have taken our industry by storm and our goal is to provide the industry's best battery life in every form factor,” said Fabry. “Further, we challenged our engineering team to deliver products that patients could wear all day—both out of the box and years down the road. And, in fact, after 3 years of use, our RIC RT will still deliver a longer battery life than our closest competitor in the industry today with their brand-new RIC devices.”
According to Fabry, the new mRIC is the smallest rechargeable mRIC with sensor technology and offers up to 41 hours of battery life; the custom ITE and ITC rechargeable hearing aids provide up to 42 hours on a single charge. “No matter how you slice it, Genesis AI provides all-day comfort—regardless of form factor, and irrespective of how much your patients stream audio,” he said.
Dr. Fabry also noted that all the new hearing aids in the Genesis AI line are IP68, making them highly resistant to moisture and foreign materials. Further, he says Starkey engineers have designed the RICs to withstand a series of “hearing aid torture tests” that go considerably beyond the standard IP68 requirements.
Bhowmik and Chief Innovation Officer David Fabry.
Better Bluetooth connectivity and range
Genesis AI offers Bluetooth streaming (except in the CIC and IIC models) for Apple iOS and Android, with hands-free 2-way audio for compatible iOS devices. Using a new antenna, the hearing aids have improved their wireless range by up to 40%, says Fabry. This means you can be farther away from your iPhone when taking hands-free calls, and you can stream podcasts, music, or audio from farther away. This also extends the range of the Starkey TV Streamer, so users can be farther away from the television set or in a classroom while still streaming binaurally from their audio devices.
The personal assistant now runs smarter, accessing geolocation services on the phone, so you no longer need to specify your location.
Additionally, the number of languages available for translation has been expanded to support over 70 languages from the previous 27 languages.
Redesigned MyStarkey App functions for easier access and use
The MyStarkey app has been revamped for more intuitive and simpler use by Starkey hearing aid wearers, with the home screen displaying EdgeMode+, My Hearing, and Programs. For example, EdgeMode+ can now be quickly accessed on the home screen, along with the other controls, so users in moderate and noisy listening situations can choose between clarity or comfort as the hearing aids seamlessly employ the DNN technology.
The newly redesigned My Starkey app.
Dr. Fabry detailed some other features of the MyStarkey app, including:
- Hearing aid settings, streaming, and finding lost aids
- The Health section can be used to see the user activity snapshot and step counting, as well as progress toward hearing aid use and social engagement goals
- A new Learn section offers videos to guide and assist first-time hearing aid users on their patient journey with their devices, as well as gain familiarity with the MyStarkey app
- The app continues to employ the industry’s first and only fall detector that, when activated by the HCP, can detect if the user has fallen and alert a loved one or caregiver
- When activated, Hear Share lets caregivers see important health and wellness information about, and shared by, someone wearing Genesis AI or Evolv AI hearing aids—providing added peace of mind and helping the hearing aid wearer feel more independent
- Firmware updates are now possible via the MyStarkey app for those patients who wish to update their devices when it's convenient for them
“As Brandon says, this is caring technology,” said Fabry. “We believe strongly that to hear better is to live better by supporting physical, social, emotional, and cognitive fitness.”
New Starkey Pro Fit software for hearing aid programming and patient support
Sara Burdak, AuD, Starkey’s chief audiology officer and EVP of Product Strategy, described how the all-new Pro Fit software was architected from the ground up based on input from hearing professionals around the globe, and also detailed a new “minute fit” process that can be implemented in just 4 mouse clicks.
Starkey Chief Audiology Officer and EVP of Product Strategy Sara Burdak, AuD, provides an overview of the new My Starkey app and Pro Fit programming software.
Dr. Burdak noted that patient benefit from Genesis AI technology can only be achieved through interaction with the professional who selects and fine-tunes the hearing aids for the individual’s hearing loss and unique lifestyle needs. “Starkey Pro Fit was designed by you for you at every single step in development,” she said addressing the clinicians in the audience. “Hundreds of hearing care professionals helped us strategically craft this best-in-class fitting experience to be so intuitive that everything is just right where you expect it to be. Pro Fit also gets you the best fit at the first fit—which isn't always easy. We want to save time, and we have it enhanced with several industry firsts.”
Designed for efficiency, ease of use, and a seamless fitting experience, Starkey’s new trademarked “Minute Fit” allows HCPs to “go from box to best fit in just 4 clicks,” according to Burdak. The software is designed for three session modes—Preparation, Fitting, or Fine Tuning—to increase efficiency, smooth workflow, and allow more time for meaningful patient interaction.
Firmware upgrades can now also be accomplished through the My Starkey app, and these updates have been re-engineered to be 4 times faster and more reliable. Burdak says the updates can be done wirelessly in as little as 3 minutes for both hearing aids in a binaural fitting.
The proof is in exceptional patient outcomes and preferences
According to Dr. Burdak, more than 500 people with hearing loss have been wearing, evaluating, and providing personal input—with over 11,000 hours of infield wear time—to help Starkey investigate and validate user benefit with Genesis AI. She says the results suggest the new proprietary eStat 2.0 fitting formula, which complements Genesis AI compression architecture, has 6 dB more gain for soft sounds, resulting in better speech and allowing for a 30% increase in speech understanding over the unaided condition— translating to about 10% higher speech intelligibility compared to previous technology.
When Genesis AI was compared in a double-blinded speech-in-noise comparison test, 84% of users preferred it over the previous generation hearing aid.
Close-up shot of the CIC non-wireless and the mRIC and RIC RT Genesis AI hearing aids.
Sawalich wrapped up the launch event by saying everything in hearing healthcare ultimately hinges on patient outcomes. “Five years ago, we set out to make the impossible possible. Five years from today, we will be 10 years ahead [of the competition],” he said. “We know what we need to do: it starts with a patient. We always focus on what the real patient benefit is, and that always starts with better hearing.”
The new Genesis AI line is available in the United States for priority distribution now, with all professionals having access by the end of the month. Available models will include two receiver-in-canal models (RIC RT and mRIC) and four in-the-ear custom models (ITE R, ITC/HS R, CIC NW, and IIC NW).
For more details, please see the Starkey website.