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New technology is making hearing aids more effective. People are hearing better, with more accuracy, and with less strain. These new devices, using connectivity to the internet and more advanced chips, let people take part in group conversations and experience sounds naturally.
It was revolutionary when new hearing aids developed two channels, one for high-frequency sound and one for low-frequency. People usually lose the ability to hear high-frequency sounds before they do low-frequency, so this was a major improvement in sound quality.
But now devices have up to 64 channels, which lets people hear a wide range of frequencies. The result is more natural hearing with less stress. The Oticon Opn hearing aid, with 64-bad frequency resolution, gives the brain the information it needs to make sense of the sound it hears.
In the past, hearing aids put the focus on the sound in front of the wearer, and suppressed sounds in the background. This made it easier to understand what was being said, without the words being drowned out by other sounds in the environment.
Newer technology is replacing this approach with open sound. With more advanced chips and technology, these aids are able to analyze sound in the environment, making it possible for a person to switch her focus quickly. The wearer can focus on a conversation with a friend, while at the same time being attentive to other people in the immediate area.
Newer aids like the Oticon Opn device can harness the power of the cloud. The uses are endless, from notifying the wearer that someone is at the door to letting them know they have email. With this connectivity, the hearing aid can leverage the capability of a smartphone, sync to a TV, radio or game box, even connect the hearing system directly to the car.
Hearing aid accessories also help users have better conversations on phones and make using computers or watching TV much easier. They can turn hearing aids into a small wireless headset.
A hearing aid doesn’t allow the user to regain all their hearing, it allows them to hear the sounds coming in more clearly and better understand them. It has long been acknowledged that people with hearing loss can improve their brain function by using hearing aids. But at the same time, standard aids can contribute to stress.
With hearing loss, it can be difficult making out specific sounds and following conversations, especially in a group. This stress reduces the pleasure of conversation, preventing those with hearing problems from getting the most out of socializing.
However, according to executives at Oticon, their newest hearing aids on the market – the Opn – make it much easier to hear with less stress. Because of their ability to analyze sound in the environment more accurately, these devices deliver more precise sound. The company did a study using pupillometry that showed it required 20% less effort for users of the Oticon Opn to understand speech.