Oticon ConnectClip Wins 2018 Red Dot Award for Product Design
Commenting on the award win, Gary Rosenblum, president, Oticon, Inc said, “Oticon is honored to receive another prestigious Red Dot Award, this year for our new ConnectClip. This internationally recognized symbol of excellence is a testament not only to ConnectClip’s convenient, lifestyle-enhancing features, but also to the work that goes into the design and continued evolution of our Oticon Opn hearing aid, a 2017 Red Dot Award winner.”
The multi-functional ConnectClip is designed to turn Oticon Opn hearing aids into a high-quality wireless headset for clear, hands-free calls from mobile phones, including iPhone® and Android™ smartphones. Sound from the mobile phones is streamed directly to the hearing aids and ConnectClip’s directional microphones pick up the wearer’s voice. ConnectClip serves double duty as a remote/partner microphone, helping to provide improved intelligibility of the speaker wearing it, either at a distance (up to 65 feet), in very noisy environments or in a combination of the two. Opn wearers can also use ConnectClip as a remote control for their hearing aids.
Wearable Technology Award Win
Oticon also celebrates a win at the UK’s Wearable Technology and Digital Health Show Awards. Oticon Opn received the Innovation Award for wearable originality and advancement. The win reflects votes by a combined method of professional jury and public website vote.
Organizers at the Wearable Technology and Digital Health Show Awards commented on the win: ”The judges felt that the Oticon solution presented a revolutionary approach to hearing loss, and that its technology presented a real opportunity for users to interact with the growing number of smart devices in the home. A worthy winner.”
Learn more about the expanded Oticon Opn family, ConnectClip and entire range of wireless connectivity accessories at www.Oticon.com/Connectivity.
* Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple Watch are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Android, Google Play, and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.
Images: Oticon, Red Dot
New Hearing Devices in Development May Expand Range of Human Hearing
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University are developing atomically thin ‘drumheads’ able to receive and transmit signals across a radio frequency range far greater than what we can hear with the human ear, the University announced in a press release.
But the drumhead is tens of trillions times (10 followed by 13 zeros) smaller in volume and 100,000 times thinner than the human eardrum.
It’s been said that the advances will likely contribute to making the next generation of ultralow-power communications and sensory devices smaller and with greater detection and tuning ranges.
“Sensing and communication are key to a connected world,” said Philip Feng, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and corresponding author on a paper about the work published March 30 in the journal Science Advances. “In recent decades, we have been connected with highly miniaturized devices and systems, and we have been pursuing ever-shrinking sizes for those devices.”
The challenge with miniaturization: Also achieving a broader dynamic range of detection, for small signals, such as sound, vibration, and radio waves.
“In the end, we need transducers that can handle signals without losing or compromising information at both the ‘signal ceiling’ (the highest level of an undistorted signal) and the ‘noise floor’ (the lowest detectable level),” Feng said.
While this work was not geared toward specific devices currently on the market, researchers said, it was focused on measurements, limits, and scaling which would be important for essentially all transducers.
Those transducers may be developed over the next decade, but for now, Feng and his team have already demonstrated the capability of their key components—the atomic layer drumheads or resonators—at the smallest scale yet.
The work represents the highest reported dynamic range for vibrating transducers of their type. To date, that range had only been attained by much larger transducers operating at much lower frequencies—like the human eardrum, for example.
“What we’ve done here is to show that some ultimately miniaturized, atomically thin electromechanical drumhead resonators can offer remarkably broad dynamic range, up to ~110dB, at radio frequencies (RF) up to over 120MHz,” Feng said. “These dynamic ranges at RF are comparable to the broad dynamic range of human hearing capability in the audio bands.”
New dynamic standard
Feng said the key to all sensory systems, from naturally occurring sensory functions in animals to sophisticated devices in engineering, is that desired dynamic range.
Dynamic range is the ratio between the signal ceiling over the noise floor and is usually measured in decibels (dB).
Human eardrums normally have dynamic range of about 60 to 100dB in the range of 10Hz to 10kHz, and our hearing quickly decreases outside this frequency range. Other animals, such as the common house cat or beluga whale, can have comparable or even wider dynamic ranges in higher frequency bands.
The vibrating nanoscale drumheads developed by Feng and his team are made of atomic layers of semiconductor crystals (single-, bi-, tri-, and four-layer MoS2 flakes, with thickness of 0.7, 1.4, 2.1, and 2.8 nanometers), with diameters only about 1 micron.
They construct them by exfoliating individual atomic layers from the bulk semiconductor crystal and using a combination of nanofabrication and micromanipulation techniques to suspend the atomic layers over microcavities predefined on a silicon wafer, and then making electrical contacts to the devices.
Further, these atomically thin RF resonators being tested at Case Western Reserve show excellent frequency ‘tunability,’ meaning their tones can be manipulated by stretching the drumhead membranes using electrostatic forces, similar to the sound tuning in much larger musical instruments in an orchestra, Feng said.
The study also reveals that these incredibly small drumheads only need picoWatt (pW, 10^-12 Watt) up to nanoWatt (nW, 10^-9 Watt) level of RF power to sustain their high frequency oscillations.
“Not only having surprisingly large dynamic range with such tiny volume and mass, they are also energy-efficient and very ‘quiet’ devices,” Feng said. “We ‘listen’ to them very carefully and ‘talk’ to them very gently.”
The paper’s co-authors were: Jaesung Lee, a Case Western Reserve post-doctoral research associate; Max Zenghui Wang, a former research associate now at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC), Chengdu, China; Keliang He, a former graduate student in physics, now a senior engineer at Nvidia; Rui Yang, a former graduate student and now a post-doctoral scholar at Stanford University; and Jie Shan, a former physics professor at Case Western Reserve now at Cornell University.
The work has been financially supported by the National Academy of Engineering Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Award (Grant: FOE 2013-005) and the National Science Foundation CAREER Award (Grant: ECCS-1454570).
Original Paper: Lee J, Wang Z, He K, Yang R, Shan J, Feng PX-L. Electrically tunable single- and few-layer MoS2nanoelectromechanical systems with broad dynamic range. Science Advances. 2018;4(3):eaao6653.
Source: Case Western Reserve University, Science Advances
City, University of London to Pilot Language and Reading Intervention for Children
Researchers from City, University of London have been awarded £97k ($USD approximately $136,479) from the Nuffield Foundation to pilot a language and reading intervention with 120 children in their first year of formal education, the school announced on its website.
Involving Dr Ros Herman, Professor Penny Roy, and Dr Fiona Kyle from the School of Health Science’s Division of Language and Communication Science, in collaboration with Professor Charles Hulme from Oxford University, the study—which is reportedly the first reading intervention study to include both deaf and hearing children—will trial the new intervention in primary schools for a year and compare outcomes with other schools that offer the standard literacy teaching.
The research team have shown in previous research that many severely and profoundly deaf children have significant reading delays, yet are typically excluded from reading intervention research.
In this new study, teachers will be trained to deliver the intervention program, comprising systematic phonics teaching alongside a structured vocabulary program, during the school literacy hour. The study will investigate whether all children, or only specific groups of children, benefit from the integrated program and whether a full-scale evaluation is merited.
Dr Herman said, “Our previous research has revealed the scale of reading difficulties among deaf children. Our findings suggest that deaf children will benefit from specialist literacy interventions such as those currently offered to hearing children with dyslexia. In addition, deaf children and many hearing children require ongoing support to develop the language skills that underlie literacy.
“As a result we hope our new study, which will pilot a combined language and reading intervention, will address these issues so that teachers can provide the vital support needed to prevent both hearing and deaf children from unnecessarily falling behind their peers.”
Source: City, University of London
Neurofeedback May Reduce Severity of Tinnitus, Study Shows
Researchers using functional MRI (fMRI) have found that neurofeedback training has the potential to reduce the severity of tinnitus or even eliminate it, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), the international society of radiologists, medical physicists, and other medical professionals announced on its website.
For the study, researchers looked at a novel potential way to treat tinnitus by having people use neurofeedback training to turn their focus away from the sounds in their ears. Neurofeedback is a way of training the brain by allowing an individual to view some type of external indicator of brain activity and attempt to exert control over it.
“The idea is that in people with tinnitus there is an over-attention drawn to the auditory cortex, making it more active than in a healthy person,” said Matthew S. Sherwood, PhD, research engineer and adjunct faculty in the Department of Biomedical, Industrial, and Human Factors Engineering at Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio. “Our hope is that tinnitus sufferers could use neurofeedback to divert attention away from their tinnitus and possibly make it go away.”
To determine the potential efficacy of this approach, the researchers had 18 healthy volunteers with normal hearing undergo five fMRI-neurofeedback training sessions. Study participants were given earplugs through which white noise could be introduced for periods of time. The earplugs also served to block out the scanner noise.
To obtain fMRI results, the researchers used single-shot echo planar imaging, an MRI technique that is sensitive to blood oxygen levels, providing an indirect measure of brain activity.
“We started with alternating periods of sound and no sound in order to create a map of the brain and find areas that produced the highest activity during the sound phase,” Sherwood said. “Then we selected the voxels that were heavily activated when sound was being played.”
The volunteers then participated in the fMRI-neurofeedback training phase while inside the MRI scanner. They received white noise through their earplugs and were able to view the activity in their primary auditory cortex as a bar on a screen. Each fMRI-neurofeedback training run contained eight blocks separated into a 30-second “relax” period followed by a 30-second “lower” period. Participants were instructed to watch the bar during the relax period and actively attempt to lower it by decreasing primary auditory cortex activity during the lower phase.
The researchers gave the participants techniques to help them do this, such as trying to divert attention from sound to other sensations like touch and sight.
“Many focused on breathing because it gave them a feeling of control,” Sherwood said. “By diverting their attention away from sound, the participants’ auditory cortex activity went down, and the signal we were measuring also went down.”
A control group of nine individuals were provided sham neurofeedback—they performed the same tasks as the other group, but the feedback came not from them but from a random participant. By performing the exact same procedures with both groups using either real or sham neurofeedback, the researchers were able to distinguish the effect of real neurofeedback on control of the primary auditory cortex.
The study reportedly represents the first time fMRI-neurofeedback training has been applied to demonstrate that there is a significant relationship between control of the primary auditory cortex and attentional processes. This is important to therapeutic development, Sherwood said, as the neural mechanisms of tinnitus are unknown but likely related to attention.
The results represent a promising avenue of research that could lead to improvements in other areas of health like pain management, according to Sherwood.
“Ultimately, we’d like take what we learned from MRI and develop a neurofeedback program that doesn’t require MRI to use, such as an app or home-based therapy that could apply to tinnitus and other conditions,” he said.
Co-authors are Emily E. Diller, MS; Subhashini Ganapathy, PhD; Jeremy Nelson, PhD; and Jason G. Parker, PhD. This material is based on research sponsored by the US Air Force under agreement number FA8650-16-2-6702. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official views or policy of the Department of Defense and its Components. The US Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Governmental purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation thereon. The voluntary, fully informed consent of the subjects used in this research was obtained as required by 32 CFR 219 and DODI 3216.02_AFI 40-402.
Researchers Find Increased Risk of Hearing Loss Among Smokers
The study—which included 50,000 participants over an 8-year period—looked at data from annual health checkups, which included factors such as smoking status, number of cigarettes smoked per day, and the duration of smoking cessation on hearing loss, according to the release. Researchers calculated a 1.2 to 1.6 increased risk of hearing loss among smokers as compared to those who had never smoked before.
The risk of hearing loss decreased five years after smoking cessation.
For additional information, please click here to view the release on Science Daily’s website.
Original Paper: Hu H, Sasaki N, Ogasawara T, et al. Smoking, smoking cessation, and the risk of hearing loss: Japan epidemiology collaboration on occupational health study. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. March 14, 2018.
Source: Science Daily, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, Oxford Press
Which hearing aids are best for me?
You’ve been diagnosed with hearing loss and the hearing healthcare professional says you’ll benefit from wearing hearing aids, but which devices are best for you? The decision you make will depend greatly on the severity of your hearing loss as well as your health and the lifestyle you lead. Before you sit down to discuss options with your hearing healthcare provider, here are a few things to consider.
Are you a technology buff?
Hearing aids have changed a lot in the last ten years. Today’s devices are nothing like those your parents or grandparents may have worn, mainly because of advances in technology. While your parents’ hearing aids had to be adjusted with a tiny screwdriver by a hearing care provider, today’s digital devices are programmed via computer. Gone are the days of fiddling around with bulky volume control wheels and buttons. Most of today’s devices can be controlled discreetly by the wearer with smartphone apps as listening environments change. Bluetooth technology allows hearing aids to connect wirelessly to that smartphone you bought the moment it became available, tablets, televisions or car audio.
How much of a techie are you? Chances are, there’s a hearing aid that can keep up with your fascination for cutting edge gadgets. If you’re not a technology lover, don’t despair – the technology in your new hearing aids can also work behind the scenes automatically so you can just focus on hearing your best.
Is your world noisy?
Let’s face it — life can be loud! Depending upon what you do for a living and how often you’re socially engaged with people you love spending time with, directional microphone technology can help you make sense of that noise. Dual microphones in the hearing aid work to help you understand speech in challenging listening environments such as noisy conventions, crowded restaurants and bars or a family room filled with chattering children by focusing on the sound directly in front of you and minimizing sound to the sides and back.
Nearly all hearing aids today have some form of noise reduction built in. This technology is best for increasing your comfort in noisy situations, but it’s the directional microphones that have a noticeable impact on your ability to understand conversation in these same situations. Be honest about your lifestyle and talk with your hearing care provider about which features you need.
Are you self-conscious about your hearing loss?
Let’s be clear: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wearing hearing aids — no matter whether they’re visible to others standing close to you or fit snugly out of sight inside your ear canal. These miracle devices not only help you hear your favorite sounds, they also alert you to emergency warning signals and decrease your risk of falling, developing dementia and feeling depressed. What’s not to love?
Unfortunately, some prefer to be more discreet about their hearing loss. For those individuals, tiny receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) or receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) styles with ultra-thin tubing and an availability of colors which blend with skin or hair may be desirable. For even more invisibility, invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) or completely-in-the-canal (CIC) styles may be an option.
The discretion of small hearing aids can come with some tradeoffs. Your hearing healthcare professional can help you decide, given the severity of your hearing loss and your personal preferences, which style is best for you.
Do you have dexterity issues?
Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and other health conditions can cause numbness in the fingers or a decline in fine motor skills. The smaller the hearing aid, the smaller the features — such as the battery door or volume control. If you struggle with putting on jewelry or activities which require fine motor skills, you will likely benefit from wearing hearing aids that fit behind-the-ear (BTE) or a larger custom style. It’s much better to own devices you can operate confidently and effectively than one which frustrates you so much it spends more time in your nightstand than in your ear.
It’s important to remember that no two people or their hearing losses are alike, but there are hearing aids to suit most every need. The best hearing aids are the ones that work for you. Instead of waiting to make a decision because you’re afraid you’ll make the wrong one, find a hearing healthcare professional to guide you. Working as a team, the two of you can determine which devices will work for your unique hearing situation.
Sonic Enchant Line Adds SoundClip-A to Stream Sounds in Stereo from Numerous Devices
Now, the small, ergonomically designed clip-on device delivers added benefit as a wireless remote/partner microphone for easier listening when the speaker is at a distance or in noisy environments where listening is difficult. SoundClip-A also enables remote volume control, program changes and call pick-up with just the press of a button.
“SoundClip-A’s wireless transmission of stereo sound from all Bluetooth 2.1 smartphones and devices adds the ‘wow’ of even more wireless convenience to the many ways Enchant makes everyday sounds better,” said Sonic President & COO Joseph A. Lugara in a press statement. “With Enchant, wireless connectivity is simple and stress-free thanks to Enchant’s Dual-Radio System that delivers fast ear-to-ear connection and employs 2.4 GHz technology.”
Simply Streaming. SoundClip-A allows patients to use Enchant hearing aids as a headset for mobile calls. Users stream stereo quality sound to both ears through their Enchant hearing aids from any Bluetooth 2.1 compatible device—including mobile phones, tablets, MP3 players, and more. The built-in microphones pick up the wearer’s voice and sound from the call which is streamed wirelessly to both ears for convenient, hands-free conversations.
When SoundClip-A is used as a wireless remote/partner microphone, the speaker simply clips on the lightweight device or keeps it nearby. The speaker’s voice can be heard more easily through the user’s Enchant hearing aids at a distance of up to 65 feet, according to the company. SoundClip-A also helps users enjoy video calls, webinars, and other audio sources for easy wireless listening in both ears.
For more information on SoundClip-A and the entire Enchant family, including Enchant100, Enchant80 and Enchant60 and popular styles including the miniRITE with ZPower, miniRITE T (with telecoil) and BTE 105, visit www.sonici.com.
Unitron Launches Moxi ALL Hearing Instrument
Unitron announced the release of its latest hearing instrument, Moxi ALL.
Like all hearing instruments driven by the Tempus™ platform, Moxi ALL was designed around the company’s core philosophy of putting consumer needs at the forefront. The new hearing solution is designed to deliver “amazing sound quality,” according to Unitron, and advanced binaural performance features that help consumers hear their best in all of life’s conversations, including those on mobile phones.
After powering up overnight, a rechargeable battery is designed to help “keep them in the conversation” for up to 16 hours, including two hours of mobile phone use and five hours of TV streaming. Plus, consumers never have to worry if they forget to charge because they have the flexibility to swap in traditional batteries at any time.
A new way to deliver their most personalized solution
Consumers can take home Moxi ALL hearing instruments to try before they buy with FLEX:TRIAL™.
“Today’s consumers are not interested in one-size-fits-all. They want to know that the hearing instrument they select is personalized to their individual listening needs and preferences,” said Lilika Beck, vice president, Global Marketing, for Unitron. “This simple truth is driving our FLEX™ ecosystem—a collection of technologies, services, and programs designed to make the experience of buying and using a hearing instrument feel easy and empowering.”
As the latest addition to the FLEX ecosystem, Moxi ALL is proof of Unitron’s ongoing commitment to putting consumers at the center of its mission to provide the most personalized experience on the market when it comes to choosing hearing instruments.
The global roll-out of Moxi ALL begins February 23, 2018.
Visual Cues May Help Amplify Sound, University College London Researchers Find
Looking at someone’s lips is good for listening in noisy environments because it helps our brains amplify the sounds we’re hearing in time with what we’re seeing, finds a new University College London (UCL)-led study, the school announced on its website.
The researchers say their findings, published in Neuron, could be relevant to people with hearing aids or cochlear implants, as they tend to struggle hearing conversations in noisy places like a pub or restaurant.
The researchers found that visual information is integrated with auditory information at an earlier, more basic level than previously believed, independent of any conscious or attention-driven processes. When information from the eyes and ears is temporally coherent, the auditory cortex —the part of the brain responsible for interpreting what we hear—boosts the relevant sounds that tie in with what we’re looking at.
“While the auditory cortex is focused on processing sounds, roughly a quarter of its neurons respond to light—we helped discover that a decade ago, and we’ve been trying to figure out why that’s the case ever since,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Jennifer Bizley, UCL Ear Institute.
In a 2015 study, she and her team found that people can pick apart two different sounds more easily if the one they’re trying to focus on happens in time with a visual cue. For this latest study, the researchers presented the same auditory and visual stimuli to ferrets while recording their neural activity. When one of the auditory streams changed in amplitude in conjunction with changes in luminance of the visual stimulus, more of the neurons in the auditory cortex reacted to that sound.
“Looking at someone when they’re speaking doesn’t just help us hear because of our ability to recognize lip movements—we’ve shown it’s beneficial at a lower level than that, as the timing of the movements aligned with the timing of the sounds tells our auditory neurons which sounds to represent more strongly. If you’re trying to pick someone’s voice out of background noise, that could be really helpful,” said Bizley.
The researchers say their findings could help develop training strategies for people with hearing loss, as they have had early success in helping people tap into their brain’s ability to link up sound and sight. The findings could also help hearing aid and cochlear implant manufacturers develop smarter ways to amplify sound by linking it to the person’s gaze direction.
The paper adds to evidence that people who are having trouble hearing should get their eyes tested as well.
The study was led by Bizley and PhD student Huriye Atilgan, UCL Ear Institute, alongside researchers from UCL, the University of Rochester, and the University of Washington, and was funded by Wellcome, the Royal Society; the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC); Action on Hearing Loss; the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Hearing Health Foundation.
Original Paper: Atilgan H, Town SM, Wood KC, et al. Integration of visual information in auditory cortex promotes auditory scene analysis through multisensory binding. Neuron. 2018;97(3)[February]:640–655.e4. doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2017.12.03
Source: University College London, Neuron
ADM Tronics Unlimited, Inc (OTCQB: ADMT), a technology-based developer and manufacturer of innovative technologies, has authorized its subsidiary, Aurex International Corporation (“AIC”) to begin advertising its new hearing protection product, Tinnitus Shield™ in Tinnitus Today, the official publication of the American Tinnitus Association, ADM announced.
Tinnitus Shield™ has been designed to protect against damaging sounds shown to cause tinnitus for individuals at risk of acquiring this condition, according to the company’s announcement. These include military, police, musicians, construction workers, and many other occupations subject to Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL).
The US Veterans Health Administration (VA) reports that tinnitus is the most prevalent combat-related disability affecting veterans, making it a high-priority healthcare issue facing the military and the VA.
While Tinnitus Shield™ has been specifically engineered to protect against the sounds which may cause tinnitus, AIC also plans to bring to market Aurex-3®, a patented, non-invasive therapy technology for the treatment and control of tinnitus.
Heading up AIC is CEO Mark Brenner, BSc, PhD, who draws upon years of experience serving the tinnitus market in the United Kingdom. Brenner brings with him the vision and resources necessary to set in motion the launching and distribution of Aurex-3 throughout the US and Europe. For these reasons, the company believes that under Brenner’s leadership and guidance, both AIC technologies can effectively penetrate this burgeoning market.
“The potential market for effective technologies that addresses the tinnitus marketplace is significant, considering the millions and millions of sufferers in the US and worldwide,” said Andre’ DiMino, president of ADMT.
Brenner commented, “AIC is now able to offer the full spectrum of support to the worldwide tinnitus community with its Tinnitus Shield, providing protection from noise-induced tinnitus, and the Aurex-3, as an active treatment and management system for those who have developed tinnitus. This is receiving great interest in the UK where we are actively working with The Tinnitus Clinic, a group of specialist tinnitus clinics. In the US we have active discussions with the American Tinnitus Association.”
Source: ADM Tronics Limited