Although hearing aid manufacturers don’t put out new hearing aids until spring, we at YourHearing wanted to give you a feel for the types of new tech that might soon be coming to a hearing aid near you. So we researched recent patents and trends, consulted our crystal balls and came up with a list of must haves for the New Year.
Below is a list of some of the exciting technologies that will be introduced or that we believe will be quickly catching on for 2017. If you have anything you think should be added to the list, don’t be shy! Add your comment in the comment section.
Oticon’s Opn-When Oticon introduced Opn 1 people were a bit confused- if hearing aids no longer used directionality to diminish background noise wouldn’t it be impossible to hear someone speaking, wouldn’t your refrigerator hum sound as loud as your spouse? The answer turned out to be a big fat no. Opn 1’s Velox platform is able to allow all the sounds in an environment, avoiding tunnel hearing, while keeping the ability to focus on speakers or wanted noise. Having 360* of sound available allows a person to orient themselves in an environment and has been shown to reduce the amount of effort a person uses to pay attention. Look for Oticon to expand this inclusive sound trend in 2017 when they roll out Opn 2 and Opn 3. These 2017 releases promise to offer two new speaker levels allowing for greater access to sounds and better understanding in noise. In addition, these hearing aids will be available with the new PowerFlex Mold—Oticon’s highest yet standard in comfort and performance. In addition, the miniFit receivers available in 2017 will make Opn available to people with even severe or profound hearing loss.
Phonak’s Audeo B-R-This rechargeable hearing aid allows 24 hours of use on one charge. And it takes only three hours of charging to get you that 24 hours, but if you’re in a rush you can charge these hearing aids for just 30 minutes to get six hours of use. According to the manufacturer, these hearing aids have 40% more power that other rechargeable hearing aids and sport a lithium ion battery dynamic enough to fully support Phonak’s advanced AutoSense OS allowing features and technology that seamlessly adapts to listening environments.
Signia’s Cellion™- Another rechargeable hearing aid and this one comes with an easy to use charging station. Not only can you just lay it upon the recharging station, with barely a glance toward it, but once down, your hearing aid shuts off. And unlike other rechargeable batteries, this battery lasts a really, really long time. According to the manufacturer, “The battery lasts for a particularly long time—up to two days* after a four hour charge and for at least seven hours after just 30 minutes express charging.” Wow! That’s fantastic. In addition, Signia’s myHearing™ App will provide connectivity and independence for the user.
Widex’s Beyond Fusion2- This receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aid accommodates most hearing losses and most budgets as its available in three different technology levels. This hearing aid follows the Made for iPhone trend is able to connect directly with Apple products, streaming conversations, music and movies directly from your iPhone. Like other newer hearing aids, this one comes with its own app that allows users more freedom and self-direction than previous hearing aids. This app gives users control over volume, frequency, directionality and streaming of the listening environment. Features include Smartwind Manager™ to reduce wind noise (a big market for Widex) and PowerSaver Plus™ which helps support functions without using up all your battery.
2017 TRENDS IN HEARING AID FEATURES
Telecare or Is There a Doctor in My House?: Telecare also known as telehealth and telemedicine is the use of technology to diagnose, treat and interact with patients outside of an office. For hearing health professionals, this invites a whole new avenue of contact with people who, for one reason or another, might not be able to get to the office. For patients, this basically allows them to speak with and be diagnosed by a doctor in their own home. Wow. That’s super convenient. Look for this trend to keep developing and to even be incorporated into hearing aid software. In fact, some hearing aid manufacturers are already shaping the idea into their hearing health management. With the release of Signia’s myHearing™ App a new communication platform has been opened between patient and hearing health professionals. For the first time someone with hearing loss can be advised and even have their hearing aids adjustedfrom the comfort of their own home. According to the manufacturer, “Communicate via text, voice, or video CareChat for a new standard in personal support. Benefit from advice and troubleshooting wherever you are, reducing the number of follow-up appointments needed to resolve issues with your hearing aids.”
Apps, Apps, and More Apps: We’ve seen apps take the stage for a while now, so this might seem a no-brainer, but the apps of 2017 will be highly improved, more interactive, and like Signia’s myHearing™ App will provide connectivity and independence for the user. Take for example, WIDEX BEYOND™ hearing aids that according to the manufacturer includes a “…customizable app allowing full streaming functionality and control over their listening environment, hearing aid wearers are seamlessly connected anywhere and anytime.” Or ReSounds Smart App that allows users to adjust the noise levels around them, find the right balance of sound at a concert, and even helps you to locate your hearing aids if you misplace them. These apps promise to create a closer bond between patient and hearing health provider, while allowing the hearing aid user to learn more about the technology that shapes their lives.
No More Replacing Batteries Every Two Weeks- If you ask anyone with a hearing aid, they’ll tell you that hearing aid batteries can be a real drain on time, attention and wallet. Fortunately, rechargeable batteries seem to be invading the hearing aid market. And it looks like they’re here to say. Recently, Signia introduced Cellion™ and Phonak introduced Audeo B-R. This trend toward rechargeable batteries of hearing aids with a battery saving feature like Widex’s Beyond will continue with the new crop of 2017 hearing aids.
Hearing Aid with Sensor: The idea is pretty cool, using a sensor that can tell if your hearing aid is close to your head. Doing this will allow your hearing aids to know if they should turn on or off, and will apparently make it easier and more cost effective to manufacturer, while draining less battery. This same sensor, in theory, would be able to detect if you’ve placed your hearing aid on the right or left side of your head. It doesn’t tell you to put the correct hearing aid on the other ear. Nope. It switches hearing aid settings, so that it matches the hearing of the ear on which it was placed. That seems pretty cool. According to the patent, “By providing a hearing aid that is configured to operate and fit on either of the user’s ears, overall manufacturing, programming, and development costs are reduced because a single casing and associated circuitry can be produced that can fit interchangeably. Further, the interchangeability of the casing 102 improves the flexibility and ease of use for the user, making it easier for the user to adapt to wearing the hearing aid. At the same time, replacing the manual switch with an automatic on/off system improves reliability, reduces wear and tear, and improves usability for hearing aid 100.”
Well that’s just a taste of what’s in store or things to keep an eye out for in 2017! Keep an eye on the blog for the latest in technologies, features and developments in hearing aids. And if any of these fine gadgets caught your eye and you’d like to learn moreclick HERE to connect with a real human that is eager to help you out!