Technology is fast-changing. What wasn’t possible yesterday is now possible with today’s digital aids. Today’s devices can scan the room around you a hundred times in one second, analyzing sounds then delivering them to your ears with spot-on accuracy. The technology is impressive—hearing aids now come equipped with faster processing that keeps up with your brain, making conversation less tiring and more natural. Bonus—you can even connect your hearing aids to the Internet and to all your favorite apps, and to your everyday devices in your home, car or office.
Ready to test drive the latest hearing aid technology? Read on for YourHearing’s 2016 mid-year hearing aid lineup.
Signia (previously Siemens): The new hearing aid brand from Sivantos has launched primax, a new hearing aid line meant to reduce listening effort while providing advanced hearing in challenging listening environments like busy restaurants or cocktail parties. The new primax line also has HD Music for music lovers and musicians—the high-frequency-enhancing 12 kHz extended bandwidth, is designed to enrich the sound quality of music (for recorded music, live music or performing music).
Oticon Opn™: Oticon was single minded in its approach to what it calls BrainHearing™. BrainHearing is Oticon’s term for hearing aids that work with the brain to ensure the highest rate of understanding and the lowest amount of effort. Oticon was so sure that Opn would benefit the brain in this way that they employed a unique method to test it. The results—Opn made it 20% easier for the brain to understand sounds, all while keeping awareness of the spatial environment (something unique to this hearing aid). People who used Opn understood 30% more and retained 20% more. Opn is also the first hearing aid of its kind to be connected to the Internet—this means your hearing aid can be potentially upgraded at home by using the IFTTT (If This, Then That) web service and can control over 300 devices that connect to home and services. For example, turn the lights off, the TV on, the coffeepot on all from bed (You can also contact emergency services through your hearing aid like the local police and fire departments.)
Sonic’s Cheer: Designed to offer affordable wireless functionality to a greater majority of people, Sonic’s Cheer can accommodate mild to profound hearing loss. Cheer is based on Sonic’s Speech Variable Processing platform—which focuses on creating natural sounds and promoting clearer speech. The Cheer line offers a lot of custom options, and various models to accommodate different hearing losses, and several accessories that enhance connectivity. Cheer’s focus on understanding speech includes not just speech in noise, which is pretty essential, but clarifying consonants like F, S, T, and Z for high frequency hearing losses, and preserving soft and loud sounds that help differentiate certain spoken words. They’re also offering wireless capability at a good price point, so you can connect your phone and other electronic devices. Cheer hearing aids require user manipulation, but the manufacturer says they have “delightfully intuitive” program buttons to make things easier. Note: Not all models come with wireless capability.
Starkey’s Halo 2: This wireless Invisible-In-the-Canal hearing aid is another made for iPhone product, but can also connect to some Android. Still, its claim to fame is the fact that it can connect to almost any Apple product, including the Apple Watch. By using Starkey’s much talked about TruLink™ remote control app you can easily tweak your hearing aid settings through your phone. In addition, these hearing aids have an advanced operating system—yep, just like a computer—that allows them to detect when you re-encounter a prior listening environment. In other words, when you arrive home, your hearing aid sets your hearing aid settings to match your “at home” preferences. According to the manufacturer, this hearing aid comes equipped with, “Acuity™ Directionality designed to improve speech audibility in difficult listening situations along with Speech Shift.” It also has a tinnitus feature that is customizable via TruLink™.
Phonak, is launching a new hearing aid platform Belong, which will include rechargeable lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aids and will be included in Phonak’s upcoming Audeo B-R Receiver-in-Canal (RIC) product line. The Phonak rechargeable hearing aid will provide 24 hours of battery with a charge of three hours. The 30 minute fast-charging option will give users six hours of immediate use. Bonus—lithium-ion batteries last through the lifetime of a hearing aid, even after years of repeated charging. Expected release will be August 2016.
Widex’s Unique: These hearing aids’ ability to adapt to any listening environment has been honed through Widex’s own Sound Class Library. This sound library is basically a recording of every kind of listening environment a person might reasonably encounter. Widex uses these recorded sounds to train their hearing aids to recognize and adjust to varying environments. They’ve also designed their hearing aids to work in more extreme wind settings. Widex’s Wind Noise Attenuation System allows for hearing aids to be used comfortably when it’s windy. Unique’s Sound Class Technology is designed to help a person hear what they want to hear while diminishing distracting or unwanted noises. It seems to be working, because a recent survey showed 100% of users were satisfied or very satisfied with the improvement in the hearing aids. This could also be due to features like the Audibility extender, an option that delivers higher frequency sounds to the user in a lower frequency register. This option can be programmed to be used in only some listening environments, creating ample opportunities to still engage the brain with high frequency sounds. In addition to the pretty intense tech inside the Unique hearing aids, Widex has developed COM-DEX to be paired with the hearing aids. The communication device allows users to discreetly stream music and cell phone calls directly into their hearing aids. It also allows them to control their hearing aid via their cell phone.
Resound’s ENZO2™: This super power hearing aid is still incredibly small. It’s designed to give people with profound or severe hearing loss the same kind of features that the Linx provided for those with less profound hearing loss. Like the LInx it connects to advanced technologies like the iPhone, iPad, or iPod. Designated as a “smart hearing aid,” the manufacturer says it has, “exceptional hearing experience with greater audibility, better speech understanding, and improved spatial awareness, enabling people to live their life closer to normal than ever before.” ENZO2™ has some advanced features including customizable options that use your phone and Spatial SenseTM. Spatial SenseTM makes it easier for you to locate the source of a sound and also to customize what sounds you’d like to focus on. Although it’s made for iPhone this hearing aid can be adapted for use with other phones by using their Phone Clip+.
Beltone’s Ally: Labeling their product line advanced and simple, Beltone has set out to give users functionality without the stress. This class of hearing aids has a broad reach and can accommodate 90% of hearing losses. It’s designed with a few key features like Sound Cleanser to reduce background noise, Speech Spotter to zero in on speech, Whistle Stop to reduce annoying feedback, and tinnitus relief with Tinnitus Breaker Pro. Basically Ally gives users a way to hear better without the hoopla. Direct Phone Link 2 allows your phone to control your hearing aids remotely. In addition, Beltone has its companion Direct Line series. These accessories and products enhance connectivity and streaming. In compliment to its interior technology, Ally’s exterior is coated in nanotechnology, Ally’s HPF80 NanoBlock™. This coating helps keep out water, wax, dust, and debris.
Beltone’s Boost Plus: Made for people with severe to profound hearing loss, the Boost Plus allows people with even the most severe hearing loss the ability to use today’s advanced gadgets and gizmos—especially if they are an Apple product. This hearing aid is designed to be used with an iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch and can stream sound wirelessly, no adapter needed, directly to your hearing aid. Boasting a Personal Sound ID feature that, “mimics the way sound is naturally processed by the ear” along with Crosslink Directionality which lets you “instinctively” decide which sounds you want to focus on, the manufacturers describes this hearing aid as being one of the “strongest” on the market today. In addition to sporting Feedback Eraser, Whistlestop, and the cool AFX Music Mode, it has the same NanoBlock™ coating as the Ally and works with their Direct Link accessories.
Unitron’s Stride M 312: In addition to its In-the-ear model, Stride boast Unitron’s smallest BTE. This hearing aid’s consumer friendly design is comfortable, moisture resistant, and durable with a plasma coating. This model works with the much heralded North™ platform. According to the manufacturer, “the new North platform is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in natural sound. A greater dynamic range enabling inputs up to 119 dB SPL, clean handling of signals and tightly integrated algorithms shape the sound quality in a way that’s totally unique to Unitron.” Being based on the North platform means that Stride is powerful enough to accommodate a wide range of hearing loss while supporting essential features. These features focus on delivering the optimal sound and include SpeechZone 2, SoundNav and Sound Conductor. In addition, the manufacturer has unveiled a new way of keeping track of a user’s need and satisfaction levels with its Flex™ and Log It All. According to the manufacturer use of these tools helps enhance patient experience and communication with their hearing health provider by, “allowing HHCPs to gather information from a patient’s experiences wearing hearing instruments to create evidence-based conversations about their lifestyle and technology level choices.” The patient is completely in charge of what information gets passed on to their hearing health professional and in how that information is used to improve their hearing aid experience.
To test drive the latest hearing aid technology at a clinic near you, call 888.902.9310.