• Revolutionary New Oticon Opn Hearing Aids

    New Oticon Open Hearing Aids

    The new Oticon Opn ™ has been released to the Australian market late June 2016. It packages a group of new technologies that purport to translate into “30 % better speech understanding in background noise, 20 % reduced listening effort and 20% improvement in recall of conversations owing to reduced cognitive load or processing load on our brain.

    The system represents a shift away from the approach of using adaptive directional microphones that can create a narrower beam of focus in higher levels of background noise. Oticon’s marketing claim that this narrow directionality (microphone beamforming) what they term “tunnel directionality” limits the users experience by not preserving the diverse, dynamic and unpredictable nature of the listening environment. Other manufacturers that promote the benefits of beam forming microphone technology claim that the narrow directionality of beam forming directional microphones only automatically activates upon detecting higher levels of competing background noise to enable the listener to focus on the speaker they are directly facing limiting input of invasive noise from the sides and from the rear.

    By better preserving the full sound picture Oticon aim to reduce listening effort and improve ability to switch attention readily by preserve the full sound picture and hear what’s desired. This adheres to Oticon’s Brain Hearing approach that aim to develop hearing aids that support the way our brains “Orient, Recognise Separate and Focus on sounds.”

    Oticon Open features the latest micro processing chip platform called the Velox ™ developed in house in Denmark by Oticon. The new platform is purportedly 50x faster then the previous Inium Sense ™ microchip platform found in the Alta 2 range and is now capable of 1.2 billion operations per second. It is now the new industry leader in terms of having the fastest digital processing chip set. Noise filtering and microphone adaptive directionality can occur seamlessly over a relatively high number of 64 digital processing channels. The new Velox ™ chipset also has a new analogue to digital converter (A2D) that increases it dynamic range from 92dB to 108 dB giving the benefit of better sound quality and less distortion in listening environments with higher levels of background noise. Oticon call this ClearDynamics ™.

    Another industry first is that the new Oticon Opn features TwinLink™ wireless systems, which is two dedicated wireless systems on separate frequencies. One to create a broadband link between the hearing aids so they are coordinated in all their real time functioning. (Binaural processing) and the other to enable the connection with blue tooth enabled devices such as mobile phones and tablets with reliable 2.4GHz streaming. Oticon Opn directly connects with Bluetooth devices such as iphone, ipad and ipod and is also compatible with Android mobile devices with the use of a microphone lapel clip. This negates the need for a neck worn device. There is also a new remote control 3.0 which is very useful for people with dexterity issues. There is also a new T.V. adapter. These new hearing aid accessories are not backwards compatible due to the new operating frequencies.

    The new Oticon On App allows for direct remote control of the hearing aids from both Apple OS and Android devices and Oticon Opn also enables the world’s first internet connecting hearing aids. Using your phone with the hearing aids you can access the “If Then This That platform IFTTT” (www.ifttt.com) which connects different services and products. For example if your IFTTT enabled doorbell rings you also receive a wireless notification via your Opn hearing aids that the doorbell is sounding.

    These revolutionary new hearing aids represent a great forward step for all people with hearing loss. Even people with mild hearing loss can benefit from the improved speech clarity, noise reduction and reduced listening effort. This combined with direct wireless connectivity to smart phones, tablets and other internet enabled devices Open’s up a huge dimension of capability.

    For more information or a to book a free trial of these great new hearing aids please don’t hesitate to contact your hearing care professional at Harmony Hearing & Audiology.

    Best regards

    Andrew Mackendrick (Audiologist)

  • Teenagers & Tinnitus – A Growing Concern

    According to a recent study by Canadian researcher Larry Roberts, there is a frightening increase in the number of young people with tinnitus, a condition that causes ringing or buzzing in the ears.

    According to Roberts, of McMaster’s Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, “It’s a growing problem and I think it’s going to get worse. My personal view is that there is a major public health challenge coming down the road in terms of difficulties with hearing.”

    The researchers interviewed and performed hearing tests on a group of 170 students aged between 11 and 17.

    They found that virtually 100% of the group participated in what was termed “risky listening habits” with their personal listening devices or during their social activities, and that almost 25% of them already had persistent tinnitus.

    The reason this is so alarming is that up until very recently, tinnitus almost exclusively affected people over the age of 50!

    The researchers found that the students with early tinnitus could hear as well as the students who didn’t have tinnitus, but were much more intolerant of loud noises.

    That intolerance to loud noises is a sign of damage to the nerves that process sounds and is a warning sign of significant hearing loss in the future.

    When the auditory nerves are damaged, the sound processing parts of your brain basically overcompensate and increase sensitivity to the inputs that remain, thus every sound can seem louder than it once did and lead to an intolerance to loud noises, as found with the test subjects.

    But, despite the dire nature of this problem, there is good news; it’s never too early, or too late, to take care of your hearing.

    This is a totally preventable condition. It’s simply a matter of education and lifestyle changes and the earlier someone starts the better their outcome will be.

    If you want to know more, or want some information about how to talk to the teens and young adults in your life, come in and see me. I’ll do whatever I can to help!