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Monday, August 21, 2017

Bluetooth chip drives direct connection to hearing aids

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

New chip technology is enabling a higher performance Bluetooth hearing aid.

Swiss developer Sonova is using the SWORD chip for a hearing aid under its Phonak brand.  The Bluetooth 4.2 implementation took $25m and three years to develop and supports wireless stream for up to 80 minutes from a lithium ion battery.

Neighbour Swatch has also been working on similar ultra low power Bluetooth technology: 
The SWORD chip in a chip scale package (above)  has been used for the Phonak Audéo B-Direct hearing aid that directly connects to any Bluetooth enabled cell phone or TV. This uses a dedicated operating system called AutoSense OS. The hearing aid connect to both Apple iOS10 and Android 6.0 phones.

All new products will be available in the US by the end of August with Europe and other countries worldwide from September 2017 onward.

“For 70 years, Phonak has continued to develop life-changing solutions that break down barriers,” says Thomas Lang, Senior Vice President of Phonak Marketing. “With the Audéo B-Direct, we’re now breaking barriers to accessibility and connectivity. Audéo B-Direct also works similar to a wireless headset. We’re giving more hearing aid wearers access to proven Belong technology without limiting them to a single cell phone, manufacturer, or operating system. This is a true game-changer for our industry.”

The Audéo B-Direct provides hands-free voice calling as hearing aid wearers can answer or reject a phone call by simply pressing the push button on their hearing aid. The ringing of the phone is heard through the hearing aids and once the call is accepted, the conversation is instantly streamed. The wearer’s voice is picked up by the hearing aid’s intelligent microphone network and transmitted to the other caller similar to a wireless headset. All this is done without the hearing aid wearer ever having to physically touch the phone.

Phonak has also launched a hearing aid with Biometric Calibration. Each ear is unique and each ear hears differently. Identifying over 1,600 data points, the Phonak proprietary 3D modelling software calculates the unique calibration settings for each Virto B hearing aid. The result is a 2 dB improvement in directionality leading to better hearing performance1. Virto B comes in a full product family launch. The new CROS B Custom for single sided deafness is also introduced to be compatible with Virto B.


  • Swiss software developer Fennex is taking a similar approach with an app that turns Apple's Airpod Bluetooth wireless earphones into hearing aids. The app allows the user to control volume, the focus of the conversation, balance, compression to amplify or limit low/loud sounds, keeping or removing high or low-frequency sounds, and an equalizer to adapt treble, mid and bass sounds.


www.phonakpro.com

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