Below is a glossary of just some of the technology and terms you might learn about if you're getting a hearing aid...
Binaural Integration - Breakthrough Technology
The human brain has an incredible ability to detect the meaning of speech within many different sounds, filtering out any unnecessary noise in the background. Hearing loss reduces this ability – our ‘central auditory processing’ – making everyday life extremely tiring.
Our state-of-the-art hearing aids mimic this ability by connecting your two ears and making them work together. This helps to reduce unwanted noise and retain important speech without you having to strain yourself to hear. This allows you to concentrate on more important things like memory or forming a reply.
Many of our hearing aids can be wirelessly connected to audio devices such as mobile phones and TVs.
One of the most significant features in blocking out background noise is the directional microphone. As the name suggest, directional microphones focus on sounds coming from the direction you are facing, meaning the person, people, speaker or screen you are looking at will be heard over everything else. This handy feature is activated by the simple push of a button.
Adaptive directional microphones
This feature is a more sophisticated version of directional microphones. It allows your device to alter its sensitivity and focus depending on your environment, effectively reducing background noise whether you’re in a small group or a large crowd. Even moving sounds such as cars passing by can be reduced. This feature helps to maximise the sounds and speech you want to hear while blocking out what you don’t.
This advanced feature provides significant advantages in difficult listening environments.
Automatic Noise Reduction
Many advanced hearing instruments have automatically activated noise reduction systems. These systems use electronic digital sound processing strategies to reduce the interference of constant noise sources. The devices are programmed to know that noises with a constant volume or pitch, like an engine or air conditioner, cannot be speech, which has regular pauses and changes in volume and pitch. The device determines that such noises are capable of interfering with the perception of speech and, therefore, reduces them while maintaining valuable speech.
Wind noise reduction
Many hearing aids have recently begun to include 'outdoor' settings. These detect wind noise through environment sound monitoring and automatically adjust to minimise its impact. This is particularly advantageous to people who pursue outdoor activities, including golf, bushwalking and bowls.
Complete Automatic Functioning & Environmental classification
The most advanced devices automatically use a combination of the above features to best suit the environment you are in. Automatic instruments constantly analyse surrounding sounds to determine if the environment is quiet, loud, windy, or contain music or speech. The device then automatically selects the most appropriate settings by configuring its directional microphones and noise reduction features for that specific environment in order to maximise speech clarity.
Data logging enables the instrument to record its performance in different environments over time. Your hearing professional can download information directly from the device to perform ongoing analysis and adjustments. In other words, the longer you use your hearing aid, the better it gets.
Thanks to feedback cancellation technology, the annoying whistling caused by simple things like hugging or brushing your hair can now eliminated. This is achieved by introducing a signal to counter the feedback so that they cancel each other out. The devices do this automatically as soon as feedback is detected.
Open Fitting Hearing Instruments
For people with good low-frequency hearing, there may be an initial awareness of your own speech when you start using a hearing aid. This is caused by vibrations in the cartilaginous portion of the ear canal from sounds conducted through the jaw. This sensation usually fades fairly quickly for most people, however, there is a solution in the meantime.
The open fit hearing system is a miniature behind-the-ear style of hearing instrument that helps to eliminate the awareness of one’s own voice. The instrument is connected to the ear canal by a very fine diameter capillary tube that renders it near invisible to the naked eye. A small soft dome holds the capillary tube in the canal and the fine structure of the dome renders it acoustically transparent.
The open fit systems are nearly always used in conjunction with feedback cancellation systems, which have helped the emergence of this type of technology into everyday practice.
A telecoil responds to magnetic signals provided through an audio induction loop. Loops can be installed in your home telephone and are often located in theatres, churches and other public venues. In telecoil mode, the hearing aid can focus only on the targeted sounds so that extraneous background noise is not a problem.
Multiple Listening Programs
Through customised listening programs, we can tailor your device’s tone and volume to specific listening environments. This allows you to change the settings manually when you move from place to place. For example, program one could be for quiet environments while program two is for noisier locations.
A number of hearing aids have a remote control option that enables you to access a wider range of hearing aid controls. These may include on/off, volume, tone, telecoil and additional listening programs. They are useful for active individuals and sometimes for those who may have difficulty operating the standard controls on a hearing aid. Their operation can be complex and needs to be carefully considered. They are not available with all types of hearing aids.