Hearing Aid Features & Benefits
- The information in the following sections covers a range of features potentially available in hearing instruments.
Speech Clarity Features
Directional microphones favour sounds being received from the front over those from behind the head. In circumstances where the person of interest is speaking from the front background noise will be suppressed and a clearer speech signal will be obtained.
Adaptive Directional Microphones
This is a more sophisticated version of the fixed directional microphone. The Adaptive Directional Microphoneworks automatically to change its sensitivity to reduce noise that might arise from several locations.
The Adaptive nature of the microphone means it is always working to provide the wearer with the best reception of speech over and above the background noise even when the noise is moving This technology provides excellent understanding of speech in challenging noise environments.
Beam Forming Microphones
Beam Forming Microphones are a recent advance arising from Australian research. Most hearing aids have dual microphones so that a directional benefit can be obtained by the wearer. Now that is possible for the left and right hearing aids to talk to each other with data packets, then the technology exists for all four microphones to work together to create a narrow beam focus. Functionally this like "boom" microphones you see in video and film production for super directivity, but technologically much more advanced, being housed in a tiny hearing aid casing. This advanced technology is highly successful in allowing the wearer to hear predominantly the speaker in a narrow angle and thus suppress surrounding noise with amazing affect.
When sound is processed by a hearing aid amplifier the natural contours of the ear, which give sound its unique texture can be reduced. True directionalityseeks to replicate the acoustic influence of external ear anatomy by an electronic process. This enables the wearer to localise sounds more effectively using natural cues.
hearing instruments can communicate electronically with each other. They exchange information about the acoustic environment that may be different for each ear and make decisions about internal settings that will provide the best understanding for speech. Adjustments made to one instrument by a user will also be transferred to the opposite ear reducing the need for independent adjustments.
Channel Free Technology
Channel Free Technology treats incoming sound as a whole and adjusts amplification specific to each listening situation rather than slicing it into channels for independent processing and recombination as is common in many hearing instruments. Channel Free's ultra-fast frequency analysis results in a wholesome and crisp sound improving clarity of signal for the user.
Noise Control Features
Adaptive Feedback Canceller
Amplified sound is digitally tagged enabling so that acoustic feedbackmay be easily identified by on board signal processing. Once identified an opposite signal to the feedback is generated to cancel the whistling. A visual analogy is how ripples in pond cancel each other when they collide. This feature provides for enhanced listening comfort.
Adaptive Noise Reduction
The hearing instrument senses the noise in your environment and applies a correction to its frequency response to reduce noise for greater listening comfort. Noise reduction processes vary in their strength and methodology across families of devices.
Transient Noise Reduction
Sudden, sharp and high intensity sounds are rapidly detected by computer processes and reduced by transient noise reduction. Fast acting and responsive amplifiers immediately reduce these types of environmental noises so your enjoyment of the environment remains optimal.
Soft noise management
environmental sounds can have less amplification applied by programming the instrument specifically to the user’s personal preferences. This means less intrusion of sounds that are unimportant for communication such as the sounds a computer keyboard or air conditioning may make. As a hearing impaired person may not of heard these sounds for some time a gradual reintroduction via this feature can be helpful.
The Telecoil has been a constant in hearing instruments almost from their inception and are well regarded for their simplicity and ease of operation. The Telecoil allows wireless connection to room loop amplifiers like you see in halls and churches and in other public spaces such as airports and public transport hubs. This cuts out environmental noise and you only hear what is being transmitted through the induction loop. The hearing instrument can be programmed to respond to just the induction loop or allow it to be mixed with input into the hearing aid microphone.
This technology automatically detects that a telephone receiver is being held close to the ear and switches the response of the hearing aid to provide optimal acoustic coupling. Further, the phone signal is then transmitted to the opposite ear so that both ears may listen in stereo to the voice of the caller.
Additional Hearing Aid Options
Within an automatic program fine tuning can be enabled to set parameters specific to an individual’s requirement or preferences using the environmental optimiser. This optimisation of automatic settings is a powerful tool to help individuals with specific requirements
The instrument detects that a telephone is close to your ear and switches on its telephone features automatically using the autophone feature. A magnet is sometimes needed to assist the hearing instrument detect the presence of a telephone receiver. This makes listening on the phone simpler as the user does not have to select a program to render the system operational. Some advanced instruments can turn off the opposite ear microphone to improve clarity or, if preferred, have the phone signal transmitted rather remarkably into both ears through ear to ear transmission.
Smart Volume Control
The instrument is coded so that you cannot turn the volume too loud and cause it to feedback. This is an inbuilt protection for greater comfort and useability.
Volume Control Learning
The instrument records your volume control use and remembers what you did in certain environments. After learning your preferences the instrument will apply those automatically when it detects you have entered a particular noise environment. The benefit to the wearer is that across time the instrument knows what you prefer and applies the setting automatically.
The instrument records the type of environments in which you mingle and what programs you use as well as the volume and hours of use. Data logging does not apply changes to your hearing instruments. It is a record of the duration of use and the types of noise environments you visit and how the hearing aid responds. This information informs the Audiologist as to what adjustments may be required or what additional information you may require to get the most benefit.
Hearing Aid Accessories
Remote Control Compatibility
A compatible instrument may have its volume, programs and on/off operated by a remote control. This provides the user with fine tuning capability and can be useful for individuals with dexterity issues. Not all hearing instruments are compatible with remote controls.
Blue Tooth Systems
Hearing instrument manufacturers have developed new technologies that can connect to external sources by blue tooth and other radio frequencytransmissions. These are available as attachments to hearing aids with specific families of hearing aids. The FMsystems can attach to the home telephone, mobile telephone, home stereo system, television or to a personal microphone. The personal microphone is particularly advantageous in degraded acoustic environments. A listening partner can wear an unobtrusive radio microphone that will transmit to the hearing aids of the hearing impaired individual. This provides a significant boost in the ability to hear in noise as the signal of the speaker takes priority. Your audiologist can advise of the most appropriate types of hearing instruments and radio systems for your particular circumstance.
The TV adaptor is a device that attaches to your TV or stereo system and works in conjunction with the “SoundGate” technology. The TV audio is then received in your ear with perfect clarity at a volume you find comfortable without affecting others.
The phone adaptor is an attachment to you home telephone that transmits Bluetooth signals to your SoundGate and hearing aid. This means you can hear your incoming phone calls through your hearing instruments once you accept the incoming call via the SoundGate. This is particularly useful for those who find telephone communication challenging.