Sunday, December 21, 2014

Phonak Launches U.S. Audiology Research Center

Left to right: Aniket Saoji, PhD, Christine Jones, AuD, Lori Rakita, AuD


New facility debuts industry first-of-its-kind Listening Loft for testing real-life hearing technology performance 


Phonak U.S., the leader in innovative hearing solutions has launched the Phonak Audiology Research Center (PARC), its North American center for innovation, audiology and clinical research. The research conducted at the PARC is specifically targeted to the needs of US hearing care professionals, providing them with evidence-based science to support best-practice clinical protocols that ultimately result in higher patient satisfaction and increased adoption of hearing technology. Dr. Christine Jones, Director of Pediatric Clinical Research at the new Phonak US Audiology Research Center (PARC) conducts hearing testing on a three year-old patient as part of a bigger clinical study being conducted at the PARC on Thursday, December 18, 2014 at Phonak headquarters in Warrenville, Ill. Phonak is renowned for its long history in providing pediatric hearing solutions and wireless communication products for every age. The PARC is a new and important asset in helping to drive innovation...

Currently, the adoption rate of hearing devices among U.S. consumers with some degree of hearing loss is only 25 percent, and it takes an average of seven years for those with hearing loss to seek care. This collaboration between Phonak audiology and engineering represents a powerful multi-disciplinary approach designed to advance the understanding of hearing loss and explore new applications of hearing technology performance.

In addition to having a state-of-the-art patient testing facility with the latest measurement capabilities, Phonak researchers are exploring the limits of hearing instrument functionalities in real life using the PARC Listening Loft. "The Listening Loft environment replicates the living areas of a home and allows us to test hearing technology in a realistic and natural environment," said Aniket Saoji, PhD, Senior Manager of Phonak Clinical Research.

 "We've outfitted it with a sound demonstration system which replicates a wide range of sound and speech recordings that people experience in everyday living- talking while the TV is on and the dishwasher is going, etc.," explained Dr. Saoji. "This way, we're able to demonstrate products and capture data in perfectly simulated real-world environments where people want the most from their hearing devices. Additionally, testing new hearing devices early in development provides in an unprecedented ability to evaluate the benefit and application of new hearing innovations and further optimize them prior to commercialization," he added.

The PARC is also home to Pediatric product validation efforts, led by Christine Jones AuD, Director of Phonak Pediatric Clinical Research. A highly specific clinical approach is needed for pediatric audiology. "We don't use adult hearing devices on children because kids are not just 'small adults' when it comes to hearing. Instead we develop our pediatric portfolio according to the unique needs of children at various stages of their development," explained Dr. Jones. "For example, the experimental Roger lab allows us to evaluate new wireless technologies used in schools across the country and gain insights from all the stakeholders involved — educational audiologists, teachers, children and their families. This iterative process lets us leverage those user insights to enhance product development and tightly align product innovation with user needs and expectations."



Effective collaboration between the Phonak U.S. team and its counterparts in Switzerland was also demonstrated with the recent launch of the Phonak Venture product platform. The Phonak U.S. team conducted the verification work on the new Adaptive StereoZoom algorithm using specialized speaker configurations and measurement equipment, as well as real patient testing.

"When you review all of the innovation that Phonak has brought to the market over the past decades, it's very impressive and rewarding to know how many people have benefitted from it," said Bill Dickinson, AuD, Vice President of Audiology, Phonak U.S. "Even more inspiring is our ongoing passion to push the limits of technology further and produce scientific evidence using the exceptional resources available at the PARC."

This marks just the beginning of work by the Phonak clinical research team, who is integral in discovering new solutions that are meaningful and effective for the 35+ million people in the United States struggling with some degree of hearing loss.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Unleashed possibilities for teenagers with hearing loss


BringSoundtoLife.com, a dedicated Phonak website for teens, features new sports section with inspiring testimonials and practical tips showing teens with hearing loss the possibilities on the field, on the court, and on the trails. 


Because a teenager’s world is a different one, Phonak has recently launched the first website tailored to the needs of teens with hearing loss. Through teen-specific hooks such as music and social life, the site offers teens all they want to know about hearing technology – and more importantly, what it can do to enhance their lives. The latest addition to the page is a sports section that offers inspiring examples of teen athletes with hearing loss using Phonak Sky Q and Phonak Roger. This new sports section answers the questions teens may have about participating in outdoor sports while wearing hearing devices and communicating with team mates on the field. The website is available in English at www.bringsoundtolife.com

Surveys have shown that hearing impaired teens perceive themselves as typical teenagers who happen to have hearing loss. They love to be active in sports, music, and other fun activities like any other teenager. They expect their hearing aids and wireless technology to allow them to do whatever they want to do without being limited by their hearing loss. 


Teens want to live their life to the fullest

Engaging videos and
interactive elements:
  www.bringsoundtolife.com
wants to inspire teens with
hearing loss und get active. 
“Hearing impaired teens want to hear from their peers about how they succeeded in similar situations. This is why we have developed a site dedicated to teenagers, offering them all the information they seek and a platform for sharing their own challenges and accomplishments in everyday life with hearing devices, says Angela Pelosi, Head of Pediatrics at Phonak. “With sports as our latest experience, we want to encourage them to get out there and get active, without letting their hearing impairment limit them in any way.” 

Sports is one of the favorite pastimes of teens. Those with hearing loss often fear that they cannot participate or keep up with other teens because of hearing-related communication issues. Bringsoundtolife.com shows teenagers that communication is possible on the field, on the court, and on the trails with hearing solutions like Phonak Sky Q and Phonak Roger. Short, engaging videos show how Phonak hearing solutions have given teenagers the chance to live their dreams and succeed in their favorite sports – all heard and told from a teen’s perspective.

BringSoundtoLife.com offers teens the opportunity to share their own experiences and stories using the latest Phonak technology with the community to encourage and inspire their peers. A Phonak Sky Q and Roger color customization tool, and an “Ask your audiologist” tool make sure teenagers get the most out of the site, whatever their individual preferences and needs. 


The website is available in English under www.bringsoundtolife.com.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Phonak Audéo V: Next generation Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) hearing aid family based on new Venture platform

Twice the processing power and up to 30% less battery consumption – AutoSense OS next generation automation technology providing consumers with maximum convenience and a seamless listening experience. 


Hearing aid users are very clear about what they expect from a hearing aid: Performance in different listening environments. A seamless listening experience through easy operation.
Convenient phone use and as little interaction as possible. Based on these insights, Phonak has developed the next generation RIC hearing aid family: Phonak Audéo V, powered by a new chip technology that offers twice the processing power while reducing battery consumption up to 30% is available in four new styles and in four performance levels.

“Clear speech understanding in daily life situations: This is what people with hearing loss expect from a hearing solution. As simple as it may be in quiet surroundings, as challenging it still is on the move or in noisy locations”, says Martin Grieder, Group Vice President Phonak. “This is where we have put the focus in developing our new platform and our lastest generation of hearing aids. Whether in the car, on the phone or in a restaurant: The new Audéo V RIC hearing aids offer precise performance all while seamlessly adapting from one soundscape to another.”

A seamless listening experience
Less effort, more ease: 
The Phonak Audéo V 
family of RIC hearing aids
The Phonak Audéo V hearing aid family runs on AutoSense OS, the “central brain” of the new Phonak hearing aids. It captures and analyzes incoming sound and can draw on over 200 settings to match the sound environment exactly and to seamlessly provide the best setting for that environment – all without requiring any manual interaction. 

Discussions in a noisy car environment while driving to work? Audéo V reduces broadband noise to create a stable listening environment (Speech in Car program). Listening to music in a concert hall or in the living room in the evening? Audéo V provides an extended dynamic range, slow compression speed and increased gain for a richer music experience (Music program). A chat with friends in a crowded café on the weekend? Audéo V zooms in on a single voice, improving speech intelligibility (Speech in Loud Noise program).

The Phonak Audéo V RIC hearing aid family is available in four newly designed styles, all wireless, at four performance levels. All Phonak Audéo V RICs come with the Binaural VoiceStream TechnologyTM and a push-button. The re-designed housings are reinforced with high-tech composite materials for extra durability. 

Great performance, maximum convenience 

Keep your preferred phone: 
EasyCall connects to any
Bluetooth enabled cell phone.
The enhanced Wireless Communication Portfolio keeps Phonak Audéo V hearing aid users connected – on the phone, watching TV or in a noisy environment. This range of accessories offers an additional boost in performance with minimal effort. 

  •  Phonak EasyCall connects any Phonak wireless hearing aid to any Bluetooth enabled cell phone – even non-smartphones and older models. Permanently attached to the back of the phone, it streams the conversation directly to both hearing aids in unmatched sound quality. 

  •  Phonak ComPilot Air II, a handy clip-on streamer and remote control, allows for easy control of all Bluetooth-enabled audio devices such as cell phones, TVs, tablets and computers. Its neckloop-free design and stereo sound quality turn the streamer into the perfect companion for every multimedia user who wears a Phonak hearing aid.

  •  The Phonak RemoteControl App turns any smartphone into an advanced remote control for Phonak Venture hearing aids. In combination with Phonak ComPilot Air II or ComPilot II, the App enables direct selection of hearing programs, audio sources or the listening situation as well as individual left or right volume control. 

  •  The Phonak Virtual Mirror App uses an iPad to mirror a client’s ear with a Phonak hearing aid. It allows hearing care professionals to virtually change the color according to their clients’ preferences, send high definition images via email and directly place orders with the touch of a button. 


The Phonak Audéo V hearing aid family is immediately available in the USA, Germany, Switzerland and Canada; other markets will follow in early 2015. 

For more information on the Phonak Audéo V RIC hearing aid family, please visit: 


Friday, September 19, 2014

Wireless connectivity turns hearing aids into multipurpose devices

New global Bluetooth standard to support connectivity with a variety of mobile devices 



With the introduction of wireless connectivity, hearing aid technology has taken a great leap forward. It allows people to connect their hearing aids with a wide range of mobile devices which have become an essential part of modern life – from MP3 player to TV and mobile phones – and to stay connected to the audible world around them. 

However, there are still limits to overcome: the tiny batteries used in hearing aids, additional accessories required to connect hearing aids to mobile devices and the fact that you are bound to one brand due to the lack of a global Bluetooth standard. To solve these restrictions, the world’s leading hearing aid manufacturers have joined forces with the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), mobile phone and TV producers to develop an ultra-low power non-proprietary solution that will be part of a new Bluetooth specification. This solution will allow hearing aid users to wirelessly receive stereo music and voice from their phones, TVs and music players, providing extra clarity in everyday environments.

“To allow hearing aid users to fully benefit from the possibilities that wireless technology has to offer, it is important that we connect to all kinds of mobile devices,” says Soren Hougaard, The European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA) secretary general. “In order to achieve this goal, we are working on a standard every consumer electronics manufacturer can implement. This becomes even more important if we consider that, in the near future, this technology could also be installed in cinemas, schools and public places to improve the lives of people with hearing loss in even more listening situations.” 

Next generation connectivity 
Tomorrow’s hearing aids won’t just be about sound. The first manufacturers have already started to incorporate health and activity sensors into earbuds, providing athletes with information about their body whilst they are on the move. Such capabilities could become part of many ear-worn products, providing a comfortable and inconspicuous way of checking our health at the same time as enhancing our hearing – all wireless. These new features may help encouraging more people to start wearing hearing aids at an earlier stage of hearing loss, providing benefits to them, their family, friends and colleagues. 

New Bluetooth standard 
In March 2014, EHIMA announced a new partnership with the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). The partnership aims to develop a new Bluetooth standard for hearing aids, while improving existing features, and creating new ones such as stereo audio from a mobile device or media gateway with Bluetooth wireless technology. This new standard will allow manufacturers to meet the challenging power requirements of hearing aids, which have to operate with sub-miniature batteries while offering a range of new use cases.


About the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association 
The European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA) represents the six major hearing instrument manufacturers, producing up to 90% of hearing aids made globally. EHIMA was founded in 1985, and the members are among the world’s largest and most advanced hearing aid manufacturers. 

For further information visit: www.ehima.com

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Research by Linda Thibodeau shows: latest Phonak technology offers long sought breakthrough for people with hearing loss


In a paper published in the American Journal of Audiology, Professor Linda Thibodeau of the University of Texas describes her findings of a new technology which allows people with hearing loss to hear and understand speech better than those with normal hearing.


Up to 62%* better understanding than people with normal hearing


In her research, Professor Linda Thibodeau conducted measurements comprising a comparative speech recognition test with hearing aid users. This was achieved by using different wireless technologies (fixed FM and adaptive FM) and the new technology (called Roger) – in different noise levels. “Our research with the new Roger wireless technology compared to the current and past Phonak wireless FM systems yielded impressive benefits for adults and teens listening to speech in noise in a laboratory and real world situations. Particularly at high noise levels the use of Roger allowed significant speech recognition where it was previously impossible”, summarizes Linda Thibodeau. An even more: Roger technology enabled hearing aid users to understand speech in high noise and over distance by up to 62%* better than people with normal hearing in the same condition. 


The Roger technology was invented at Phonak headquarters in Switzerland. A team of over 40 engineers and audiologists, worked together for more than seven years on the project. A radical new approach was taken to extract speech from background noise, based on complex mathematical models. One of the breakthrough moments in the development of the technology was the recognition of the systems capability of successfully assessing the background noise in order to effectively reduce it and extract the desired speech signal. Next to the performance, the group also worked on the design of the new technology. One of the products, a wireless microphone, looks like a pen aiming to be as inconspicuous as possible.

“We are extremely proud of this achievement and keen to see which impact Roger will have on people’s lives. Restoring people’s hearing is our mission, and we strive to do more, do better for those with hearing loss”, says Maarten Barmentlo, Group Vice President Marketing for Phonak. “To provide better hearing in noise is in our DNA. By giving people even an advantage over those with no hearing loss we made the impossible possible”. 


 For more information on Phonak Roger, please visit: www.phonakpro.com/roger


The study at a glance
  • Test group: 11 adults, aged 16 to 78, with moderate-to-severe hearing loss, fitted with behind the ear hearing aids of different brands
  • Control group: 15 adults, aged 18 to 30, with normal hearing 
  • Test method: objective and subjective speech recognition measurements at different noise levels
Highlight results
  • Roger clearly outperforms adaptive FM and fixed FM
  • Roger enable people with hearin gaids to even hear bettre than the normal hearing from 65dB
  • One participant went from 0 to 90% (at 75dB) and from 0 to 58% (at 80dB) speech recognition with Roger 



 * Professor Thibodeau, Linda, PhD (2014), Comparison of speech recognition with adaptive digital and FM wireless technology by listeners who use hearing aids, University of Texas, Dallas, USA, The American Journal of Audiology. Volume 23, 201-210, June 2014.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

"It’s so different to what we expected"

1000 Reason for Naída’ Winner talks about his life with hearing aids and his visit to Phonak Headquarters.

Fons and Willem Maathuis at Phonak HQ
Willem Maathuis, 1000 Reasons for Naída contest winner and his father Fons, visited the Phonak Headquarters in Stäfa at the end of June. As part of their four day trip to Switzerland, a company tour was organized which included a glimpse of the Phonak production site. 

Willem is an active 17 year old student from the Netherlands, whose hearing loss was diagnosed at the age of 4. He enjoys sports such as field-hockey and football and works part-time in a supermarket. He also enjoys the outdoors and listening to music. 

He is happy with his current hearing aids, Naída IX UP with FM receivers. “They allow me to bike to school (10km each way), sometimes even in the rain, because they are water-resistant without additional covering. One day my hearing aids even fell in the sink, which was filled with water, but I took them out, placed them in a drier and they worked just fine”, Willem stated. He was not aware of the new sounds he was able to hear with SoundRecover. When people asked him “can you hear the birds singing” he said “ oh yes, I hear them now”, without even realizing at first. 

Among the things that Willem and his father were fascinated by was the open and spacious architecture of the building: “It’s so different to what we expected”. During their tour through the production facilities they were amazed by the manufacturing process and the fact that “16 million transistors can fit on such a tiny chip and can still do such a great job”. 

A demonstration of the new Roger technology gave Willem a taste of the superb sound quality allowing to stream music and sounds from a PlayStation to his hearing aids, which makes playing video games even more exciting. Fons also shared the experience through headphones. “The demonstration with the Roger Pen was astonishing, I’ve never heard Willem that enthusiastic about an additional microphone before!”, Fons commented. Roger was totally new to both of them, as Willem used to have a SmartLink+. They were fascinated by the Roger Pen, “it is cool, you can just place it on the table and it looks like a regular pen”, Willem said. Roger definitely gained a new fan. 

Willem is excited about going to University next year and although he was concerned about not being able to hear his professors in large auditoriums, he is now confident that with the Roger Pen he will be able to participate, effortlessly. After a fascinating tour, Willem and Fons tasted some Swiss cuisine while chatting over the many fascinating new things they experienced, “our day at Phonak was very interesting” Fons added.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Phonak Wins PRSA Chicago “Award of Excellence”

Global Hearing Technology Leader Recognized for Innovative Kids Campaign featuring Iron Man





Phonak was among a select group of companies to receive the "Award of Excellence" from PRSA Chicago at its annual Skyline Awards gala honoring Chicago's top public relations programs and talent. This year's sold-out ceremony took place at the historic Chicago Cultural Center.

Phonak was presented with the award for its partnership with Marvel Custom Solutions in producing a children's educational poster with the world renowned Armored Avenger Super Hero, Iron Man. The poster highlights the positive benefits of hearing aid technology in support of an enhanced quality of life among those with hearing loss.  Phonak was inspired by a story about a five year-old Phonak wearer who told his mother that he did not want to wear his hearing aid to school because "super heroes don't wear hearing aids."

Phonak debuted the poster at its "A Super Day for Hearing Aids" special event for pediatric patients and their families at the Center for Hearing and Communication in New York City in 2013. Since then, Phonak has distributed tens of thousands of Iron Man posters to pediatric hearing practices, physician offices and schools throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, South Africa and New Zealand.

About the Skyline Awards and PRSA Chicago
Each year, the Skyline Awards recognizes the best communications practitioners, campaigns and tactics in the Chicagoland area.  Founded in 1948, PRSA Chicago almost 500 members representing a cross-section of industries, with a diverse mix of Fortune 100 corporations, public relations agencies, associations and non-profit organizations. The goal of PRSA Chicago is to advance the profession of public relations promote high professional and ethical standards and build the reputation of the profession in the Chicago area.

About Phonak
Headquartered near Zurich, Switzerland, Phonak, a member of the Sonova Group, has developed, produced and globally distributed state-of-the-art hearing systems and wireless devices for more than 60 years. The combination of expertise in hearing technology, mastery in acoustics and strong cooperation with hearing care professionals allows Phonak to significantly improve people's hearing ability and speech understanding and therefore their quality of life. Phonak offers a complete range of digital hearing instruments, along with complementary wireless communication systems. With a worldwide presence, Phonak drives innovation and sets new industry benchmarks regarding miniaturization and performance. To find out more about Phonak, visit www.phonak.com.