Phonak’s new Bolero Q behind-the-ear (BTE) and Virto Q in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid families are a good example of how next-generation wireless binaural sound processing technology is starting to deliver real speech-comprehension improvements in challenging listening environments.
Phonak’s new Quest technology platform leverages a new high-performance digital signal processor to reduce wind interference as well as improve speech comprehension in noise.
Phonak says its autoStereoZoom feature delivers a 3 decibel improvement in signal-to-noise ratio, resulting in an improvement in speech intelligibility of up to 45 percent (click on the video at right for a demonstration). Phonak adds the Speech in Wind function has delivered measurable improvements in speech intelligibility of up to 40 percent.
Like other premium-brand hearing aid makers, Phonak’s new hearing aids leverage wireless ear-to-ear connectivity between hearing aids, with new software coordinating their pickup and amplification of sound to provide more “natural” hearing. But it’s often difficult to assess how exactly they actually improve the user’s hearing.
Phonak, by focusing on two very common listening situations and providing very specific solutions for each, is driving the step-by-step innovation necessary to deliver better hearing. The autoStereo zoom function is like putting directional microphones on steroids, automatically recognizing a speaker’s voice and focusing the microphones on it more precisely than ever before. And, by providing an additional setting to cut out wind noise, the Speech in Wind feature addresses a very common complaint of hearing aid users.
Neither feature is “revolutionary,” but when you combine enough incremental, evolutionary advances in sound processing into the hearing-aid technology platform, you hit a tipping point where the cumulative effect makes the overall premium price worth it for a broad numer of users.