ReSound’s Water-Resistant “iSolate Nanotech” Coating Is On Cutting Edge Of A Revolution In Hearing Aid Materials

ReSound iSolate Nanotech

ReSound iSolate Nanotech Coating Repels Water

ReSound’s announcement that its iSolate Nantotech protective coating has reduced moisture-related repairs to its hearing aids by 50 percent since its introduction six months ago is the latest example of a quiet revolution in modern materials that is transforming the hearing aid industry.

As the spotlight has been shining on new sound processing systems and other software-driven bells and whistles that have improved digital hearing aids enormously in the past two years, the leading manufacturers have also been experimenting with nanotech-based materials, water-resistant coatings, and ceramic housings that have made hearing aids more comfortable, more durable, and far less likely to require repairs. In an industry historically marked by unusually high product return rates and high numbers of customers who stop wearing their hearing aids shortly after buying them, this revolution in materials is driving higher levels of customer satisfaction with more comfortable and reliable products.

ReSound’s iSolate nanotech coating, now used in all of ReSound’s hearing aids, establishes a thin protective layer that bonds at the molecular level with the internal and external components of the hearing aid, shielding them without affecting their performance. The application process, which is done in a vacuum chamber, ensures global coating of all components inside and out. Liquids or moisture coming into contact with the hearing aids simply roll off without being absorbed.

Because moisture related failure is one of the main causes of hearing-aid returns, the innovation has had a dramatic impact on product reliability. ReSound said that in a review of 50,000 hearing aids sold in the first six months since its introduction, it found that the iSolate nanotech protective coating decreased moisture and debris related repairs by 50 percent.

ReSound’s innovation is only the latest in a series of new materials and manufacturing processes announced by industry leaders.

  • Starkey Laboratories’ Advanced HydraShield moisture protection system “integrates nano-coating, unibody construction and smart component placement,” which the company claims “provides 100 percent resistance to water, humidity, perspiration and corrosion, both inside and out.”
  • Phonak’s “high-tech ceramic housings” are more attractive and comfortable because they are scratch resistant, they adapt to body temperature more quickly and help prevent perspiration in or behind the ear, they are hypo-allergenic, and they are shock-resistant.
  • Oticon says its new super-power Chili hearing aid’s “unique shock absorbing receiver mounting prevents it from breaking should the instrument be dropped or fall off the ear,” while a “full body nano-coating” and internal seal protect the electronic parts from water, moisture, and dirt.
  • And Cochlear Ltd says its Nucleus 5 cochlear implant, made with high-tech materials including water-resistant batteries, can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes without failing.

And we can expect to see more announcements like these–although ReSound is the first manufacturer I know of who has actually documented the benefits of new materials by tracking a reduction in repair rates–because reliability is a critical factor in the success of any new in-ear or behind-the-ear product. Any audiologist or hearing aid designer can tell you that the inner ear is one of the most hostile places on the planet for miniature, high-performance, digital electronic devices. It’s wet, humid, and full of potential infectious agents. And because the devices themselves are so tiny, they are far too easy for large human fingers (especially for those of us who are “all thumbs”), to drop on the floor and otherwise abuse. Therefore the space-age materials that are making today’s hearing aids more durable and comfortable than ever before may be as important to their acceptance by more users as their ability to provide high-quality amplified sound.

Hearing Mojo Publishes Hearing Aid Comparison Chart With Data On Leading Global Manufacturers’ Flagship Hearing Aid Brands

Hearing Aid Comparison Chart

Click On Picture For Comparison Of Premium Hearing-Aid Brands

NOTE: Due to a bad WordPress Plugin, the chart comparing premium hearing aid brands is temporarily unavailable. We’re working to develop a new, better chart, but in the meantime have taken this page off our navigation menus. However, it’s still available through search engines, so if you’ve reached this page and are disappointed the chart is not here, we apologize. We’ll get a new chart up as soon as we can.

THANKS

Shopping for hearing aids and other assistive listening technologies can be confusing and intimidating. With our focus on products and technologies for hard-of-hearing consumers, Hearing Mojo has gathered a lot of information on the leading brands of hearing aids and other devices and technologies that are available. Now we’ve organized data on the flagship brands from the world’s six largest hearing aid manufacturers and presented it in our first hearing aid comparison chart.

While the hearing aid comparison chart is by no means an exhaustive list, it does give consumers shopping for hearing aids an idea of what high-end features and functions are available from the world’s leading hearing aid brands. It also provides estimated prices for the premium brand hearing aids. Most important, it offers multiple links to other Hearing Mojo articles about the hearing aid products and brands, and the companies behind them, as well as direct links to the manufacturers’ product web sites.

The only way hard-of-hearing consumers can assure themselves they will get products at appropriate prices that will help them the most is to do extensive research. The comparison of six of the best-known premium brands is a good place to start. They include Oticon Agil (William Demant Holding), Starkey Wi Series (Starkey Laboratories), Phonak Ambra (Sonova Holding), ReSound Alera (GN Store Nord), Widex Clear440 (Widex), and Siemens Motion (Siemens Hearing Instruments).

Just keep in mind that there are dozens of other manufacturers who offer high-quality hearing aids with comparable price/performance, and each listed company offers numerous other hearing aids at other price/performance levels as well. So look carefully at the information on the chart, visit the multiple links, then look beyond this short list if you are serious about buying hearing aids.

We would love reader feedback on this first hearing-aid comparison chart, as we expect to develop additional comparison charts on other types of hearing aids and assistive listening devices.

Siemens Plunges Into Invisible Hearing Aid Market With New iMini, A 16-Channel Device Featuring Siemens BestSound Processing

Siemens iMini

Taking The Plunge: Siemens iMini Will Make A Splash In The Growing Invisible In-The-Canal Hearing Aid Market

With the launch of its new iMini hearing aid family this month, Siemens Hearing Instruments will take the plunge into the hot market for invisible in-the-canal (IIC) hearing aids.

While pre-announcement details are sketchy, enough information has trickled out to confirm that the tiny Siemens iMini hearing aids will sit so deep within the ear canal as to be virtually invisible while still offering premium 16-channel programming and Siemens BestSound sound processing features, including advanced feedback cancellation and a SpeechFocus algorithm that makes it easier to understand speech in noisy environments. The company has staged a limited rollout of the brand in several locations including France and Ireland and is promising a global rollout—with a snazzy design and choice of multiple colors—on February 21.

The Siemens foray into invisible hearing aids follows the success of Starkey Laboratories, which last year entered the market with a device marketed by multiple Starkey business units—most notably the flagship Starkey SoundLens IIC hearing aid—that sits within the “second bend” of the ear canal. ReSound also recently introduced an invisible hearing aid with innovative remote microphone that extends via an invisible wire from the processing unit deep in the ear canal to a location hidden under the outer ear’s cymba concha.

Siemens’ entry into the invisible hearing aid market indicates there is strong demand for cosmetically appealing solutions that eliminate the stigma of wearing hearing aids. Other entries in the segment include Lyric Hearing, which offers an extended-wear hearing aid that is replaced by your audiologists every few months.

New Starkey Wi Series Hearing Aids Feature Wireless Connections To Your TV, Radio And Computer

Starkey Wi Series Hearing Aids

New Starkey Surflink Streamer Transmits Wireless Stereo Sound Directly To Starkey's New Wi Series Hearing Aids

With its new Starkey Wi Series, Starkey Laboratories has added its name to the list of major hearing-aid manufacturers offering direct wireless audio reception from televisions, computers, stereos and other devices. Starkey’s new IRIS wireless integrated circuit platform in the hearing aid connects directly to most media devices via a new Surflink Media Streamer that plugs into the back of the TV, stereo or other audio system and automatically syncs with and transmits audio to the Starkey Wi Series hearing aids.

The new hearing aids come with the high-end Voice IQ technology featured in Starkey’s flagship S Series hearing aids, which makes hearing in noise easier by reducing ambient noise in the milliseconds between vowels in speech the wearer is trying to understand. They also include other high-end features such as feedback canceling and multiple listening modes for different listening environments, including automatic settings for music, television and better comprehension using the telephone. More details on the Starkey Wi Series hearing aids are available in the company’s consumer brochure. [Read more...]

New Hearing Aids From Starkey and Beltone Receive Innovation Honors At Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

Consumer Electronics ShowThe hearing aid industry has been historically slow to market its products to consumer electronics enthusiasts. That’s why it’s good to see a growing number of hearing aid companies submitting their products for design awards and for industry recognition. The world’s biggest venue for showing off new electronic products is the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which attracted tens of thousands of visitors to Las Vegas this week. This year, Starkey Laboratories and Beltone were both named International 2011 Design and Engineering Awards Honorees at CES in recognition of their new nearing aid designs.

Starkey won the award for its new OtoLens hearing aid, which the company promotes as “the world’s first custom invisible-in-the-canal hearing aid.” Beltone earned the honor for its new Beltone True hearing aid, with wireless features that enable direct RF streaming of audio from your TV, MP3 player and Bluetooth phone without an intervening streamer unit or induction neck loop.

For Starkey, it’s the third time in as many years they’ve received the CES innovation honor. Previously it won for having won for its S Series™ with Sweep™ Technology and Zōn™ hearing aid lines. Beltone’s new True hearing aid has similar features to the ReSound Alera hearing aid, sold by its sister company ReSound (both are subsidiaries of GN Store Nord and part of the GN ReSound group of companies).

USA Today: How Starkey Founder Bill Austin Does Well By Doing Good

William Austin, CEO of Starkey Laboratories

William Austin, CEO of Starkey Laboratories

USA Today has published a wonderful profile on Bill Austin, Founder and CEO of the biggest hearing-aid manufacturer in the U.S., Starkey Laboratories. It focuses rightly on the phenomenal degree of philanthropic work he’s done, distributing free hearing aids to millions of people in need throughout the world. It also reviews his history as a super salesman of hearing aids, with his biggest breakthrough fitting President Ronald Reagan in 1983. [Read more...]

Buy Or Build? Starkey Turns Semiconductor Design Over To AMI

Buy or build? That’s a question that always confronts system manufacturers. It makes sense to buy standard components, but you want to own the designs for components that give your product a performance edge. Starkey Laboratories has answered the question about a major component in its hearing aids by selling its chip design group to AMI Semiconductor, Inc., which produces DSP chips for a number of hearing aid manufacturers around the world. [Read more...]

Apple Should Do More To Help Prevent Hearing Loss Among iPod Users

Ever since Apple was sued by a Louisiana man claiming his iPod caused irreparable hearing loss, I’ve been scratching my head about vendors’ responsibility to prevent hearing loss versus individuals’ responsibility to take care of their own health. [Read more...]