Hearing aid technology continues to evolve

Capital News columnist Colin VanBergen says interest in new Oticon hearing aid is 'game breaking technology.'

  • Oct. 26, 2016 10:00 a.m.

Colin VanBergen

A few months ago, I wrote a column about the new Oticon Opn hearing aids.

At that time, I had just come back from Toronto where Oticon had launched its ‘game-breaking’ technology.

Oticon was boasting that the Opn is 30 per cent better for speech understanding in noise, reduced listening effort by 20 per cent, and allowed the listener to remember 20 per cent more of their conversations.

In the subsequent weeks since that column was published, I have received an onslaught of inquiries regarding this hearing aid.

I had many people phoning me, e-mailing me, dropping into my office, and making appointments with me to determine if they were a candidate for this hearing aid.

I have never in my 16 years of working as an audiologist had so much interest in any hearing aid.

I have now fit more than 60 of the Opn hearing aids in the past five months and am extremely pleased to report that the hearing aid is as good as advertised.

More than 90 per cent of my clients who have tried these hearing aids have reported a moderate to significant improvement in their hearing ability in the most challenging listening environments—restaurants, casinos, curling rinks, hockey arenas, and family gatherings to name a few.

The majority of these positive reports were from long-term experienced hearing aid users.

Any of you who are interested in finding out more about the Opn hearing aid are welcome to attend one of two short seminars that are being held on Nov. 16.

Iconic Vancouver media personality Red Robinson will attend to share his experience with the Oticon Opn hearing aids.

Kris Hewitt, a representative from Oticon Canada, will also be here to talk about the specifics on how the Opn hearing aids work.

The first seminar will be at the Capri Hotel in the morning and the second will be held in West Kelowna at the Heritage Retirement Resort in the afternoon.

Please phone my office or email me in order to register.

While Oticon has definitely made the biggest buzz in the hearing aid industry, Phonak has also made a significant breakthrough in its technology.

Phonak has always made excellent hearing aids and  been an innovator in the hearing industry.

In the month of September, they released the world’s first ever hearing aid that features “a specifically designed built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery that provides 24 hours of hearing with one simple charge.”

While other manufacturers such as Siemens and Resound have entered into the rechargeable hearing aid world, Phonak’s system has improved on the previous generation of rechargeable hearing aids.

Phonak’s hearing aids use lithium-ion batteries which are the same type of batteries that are being used in today’s most advanced cell/smartphones.

They are able to improve on three important areas:

1. Longer battery life, which means the hearing aids will continue to work well into the evening/night time hours

2. Shorter charging time, with a quick 30 minutes of charging the hearing aids will last for six hours

3. No memory, this means you can charge the hearing aids for as long as you want or as short as you want without any long-term effects on the lifespan of the battery.

Rechargeable hearing aids will offer a significant benefit for those whose arthritis makes changing batteries a very difficult task to perform, for those who have dementia (which prevents them from knowing when to change batteries), and for those who have simply grown tired of fiddling with the small hearing aid batteries once or twice a week.

Phonak does charge more for the rechargeable option ($500 more for the basic level hearing aids, and $250 more for the mid- and premium-level hearing aids) which will put it beyond what some people are willing to pay, but there will be many who will find it to be a very worthwhile option.

Colin VanBergen, M.Sc. Aud., is an audiologist/owner of NexGen Hearing in Kelowna and is co-owner of NexGen Hearing in West Kelowna.  He can be reached at 100-1940 Harvey Ave. (in Spall Plaza), by phone at 250-763-2335, or by e-mail at cvanbergen@nexgenhearing.com.


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