Lots of Good Stuff coming out today from Advanced Bionics, Phonak, and Med-El:
- Advanced Bionics will finally add Wi-Fi to it’s new speech processor;
- Phonak will add “Teen-Speak” technology to their hearing aids;
- MED-EL Announces New Implant With Personality Customizer.
Of the three technologies introduced today, we are especially excited about the next-generation Naida speech processor containing a commodity dual-function Bluetooth and WiFi chip, which is standard in mobile phones and tablets — And it’s about time, as Williams Sound already has WiFi sound distribution with their Hearing Hotspot system. What’s more, the hardware hooks for Bluetooth have been in place since 2005 when the Harmony was released, using the coil wire as a 2.45gHz antenna.
We’re really busy here, so we’re simply going to post the Phonak Teen Speak video hosted by DJ Demers, and this link to the Med-El Personality Customizer with Synchronality Technology — Be sure to read it to the end for an important caveat (you too, Dr Gyl!).
April 5th Easter Sunday Addendum:
Although this was our 2015 April Fools’ prank post; in fact the first item on 2.45gHz WiFi connectivity for remote CI Mapping & hearing aid programming, as well as WiFi audio distribution, is much closer to reality than our readers may realize, as the main barriers seem not to be so much technical as the slow-motion pace of CI & hearing aid development; and once these developments roll off the production line, getting the sclerotic audiology community to actually use these new technologies in their dispensing (can anyone say “Real Ear Measurement?!)
In Any Event, as we have pointed out several times, the issue with digital audio distribution to hearing aids & CI’s is twofold: For 2.45gHz UHF it’s one of radio power drain, which will soon be addressed with the Digital Moore’s Law Radio once we get production volume semiconductor manufacturing down to the 14-15nM λ die shrink; and alternately a lack of universal 10.6mHz CODEC standards between Siemens (which pushed for them), Widex (which is off into their own coordinate system), Sonova (Phonak, Unitron, AB, & Hansaton), and Demant (Oticon, Bernafon, Sonic and Neurelec/Oticon Medical).
Will we see WiFi in hearing aids & CI’s anytime soon? Both 802.11 WiFi and 802.15 Bluetooth are two-way frequency-hopping protocols, as are the Phonak Roger and ReSound/Cochlear Unite systems based on Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (“BLE”), which means the antennas are already in place in devices that support these protocols. However, 802.11 WiFi tends to draw more power due to the typically longer ranges involved, so look for it to be deployed first on multicell CI processors and 675-fueled hearing aids; then once we get down below the 11nM λ die shrink to the 7-8nM range, we may see it in #13-powered devices.
Put succinctly: The first item on our 2015 April Fools’ post can, in fact be done today~