About twice a year, the top hearing aid manufacturers have big new product releases, once in the Spring and once in the Fall. The Spring release is usually a big deal because the new technology is presented at the annual American Academy of Audiology convention, AudiologyNow, where thousands of Audiologists from around the country come to learn.
It is important for Audiologists to stay up-to-date on the new products so they can offer the best solution to their patients. Even if they don’t attend the AudiologyNow convention, they will be notified after each new product release.
While it can be somewhat of a competition between manufacturers to see what the “next big thing” is going to be, it generally all comes down to providing top-of-the-line products which can improve hearing and quality of life for people with hearing loss.
As an Audiologist, I think it is an exciting time.
I enjoy seeing what new technology is available for me to offer to my patients.
It can also be a little overwhelming, especially if you are an audiologist who uses multiple manufacturers’ products. You must be sure that you are trained and knowledgeable about each new product release.
As a hearing aid user, you may or may not be told when a new product comes out. Your hearing healthcare professional may notify you the next time you come in the office for a visit, or they may send out a newsletter telling you about the new updates. Typically, if you purchased hearing aids within the last 3 years, you are likely not ready for something new anyways.
But, in case you are a hearing aid user that likes to be sure you are getting the “latest and greatest” thing available, or you are shopping for an updated pair of hearing aids, or your first pair of hearing aids, these new hearing aid updates may excite you.
New Hearing Aids for Spring 2015
Oticon has released what they call “The next generation of BrainHearing Technology“. Brain hearing technology is said to give an improvement in soft speech intelligibility and better hearing in noisy or challenging environments.
This new “BrainHearing Technology” is available in their new performance line of hearing aids, the Alta2, Nera2, and Ria2. This hearing aid line is now available in their new smaller miniRITE design, as well as in their RITE, BTE, and custom styles, all the way down to a wireless IIC style.
Oticon has also added their Tinnitus SoundSupport in their premium Pro products for management of tinnitus.
Phonak has launched a new digital chip technology called Venture. It’s claimed to deliver twice the processing power with a 30% reduction in battery drain.
Venture is available in 4 technology levels to help meet budget demands. It is available in their Audeo RIC models and their Bolero BTE models. Their Tinnitus Balance noise generator is also available in all levels.
The biggest change in this new Venture platform is the AutoSense feature. It is used to help seamlessly blend the users changing listening environments.
Phonak also has a full range of wireless accessories, with their new EasyCall II connecting hearing aids to any Bluetooth-enabled cell phone.
At the end of 2014, ReSound was the first company to release a Made for iPhone hearing aid, the LiNX. The LiNX hearing aid allowed users to connect wirelessly to their iPhone, iPad, or iPod without the use of an intermediary device. When the LiNX was initially released, it was only available in one technology level (premium), and in one style (RIC style).
ReSound has just launched their second generation of “smart hearing aids” called the LiNX2. With the LiNX2 there is a full-range of style options available, from a small IIC, up to a power BTE. The Made for iPhone connectivity is available in the RIC, BTE, and custom styles down to the ITC.
This is a great way to ensure that practically anyone can wear a Made for iPhone hearing aid, they are no longer limited by style choice. They are the first company to release this full range of styles in a Made for iPhone (or “smart”) hearing aid.
The LiNX2 device has all the original features of the LiNX device, with the added benefit of ReSound’s Tinnitus Sound Generator feature, as well as an advancement in their SmartRange digital chip processing with Binaural Directionality II and Smart Sense.
They have also redesigned the original RIC style, with a new smaller receiver and dome.
The LiNX2 is now available in three separate technology levels, the 9, 7, and 5. This allows for more options in needed features and pricing for the patient.
Siemens (soon to be Sivantos)
In addition to their new ownership and soon-to-be name change to Sivantos, Siemens has claimed “the world’s first technology that outperforms normal hearing”, called the binax.
With binax hearing aids, they claim to allow wearers to understand speech in demanding listening enviornments even better than people with normal hearing.
Their new OneMic directionality offers advanced automatic directionality for hearing aids with only one microphone, such as their new Insio binax CIC (completely-in-the-canal).
Their new BTE style, the Motion binax, covers more severe hearing losses in a more compact housing, with improved directionality and rechargeability.
All binax products now also have adaptive streaming volume and the ocean wave tinnitus therapy signals available.
Starkey recently introduced one of the first Made for iPhone hearing aids, the Halo. At the time of release, it was only available in a RIC style. Now Starkey has released Halo in a BTE style. It still has all the great features of the original Halo, with two style choices, RIC and BTE.
In addition, the Halo is now compatible with select Android phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and S 5.
Starkey also recently launched their Z Series, which features their BluWave 4.0 operating system and the 900sync Technology. This technology allows for a more robust wireless system that is virtually drop-free connectivity, with increased streaming range and less susceptibility to interference.
Their two new features, Spatial Streaming and Stream Boost for enhanced wireless audio performance.
Widex’s newest line of hearing aids, the DREAM series, got a few additions this Spring. They introduced the ultra small DREAM CIC Micro aid, one of the smallest CIC hearing aid styles on the market. Even with it’s small size, it still has all the processing capabilities of the other DREAM hearing aids and it can connect to an FM device.
Widex also recently released they new Power BTE hearing aid, the Fashion Power. It gives those with a severe hearing loss a sleek design option.
All six of these manufacturers have very comparable products in terms of function and style, but each new product release brings out a new “edge” against the other manufacturers.
That’s it for the Spring 2015 edition. Be sure to check back for the Fall 2015 edition.