OTICON

 

Hearing Aids & Products

About Oticon

Oticon is the second biggest hearing aid manufacturers in the world and arguably the best. Their headquarters is in Copenhagen in Denmark. Oticon is one of many hearing related technology businesses owned by the company William Demant Holdings. Founded in 1904 by Hans Demant. He was passionate to help his wife who was hearing impaired. Oticons motto is “People First”. They employ over 3000 employees in more than 30 countries. Staff include international Audiology researchers and medical specialists.

Oticon often leads the development and patenting of new hearing technologies. They claim many industry firsts including; The first fully automatic hearing aid. The first hearing aid with artificial intelligence and the first hearing aid to use wireless binaural technology.
Oticon develop and engineer their own microchip platforms in house. They are made specifically for the unique needs of their hearing aids. They have to be energy efficient whist handling the complex digital signal processing and wireless connectivity functions.

Oticon Headquarters in Copenhagen

Brain Hearing Philosophy

Oticon aims to develop their hearing aids to support the way our brains naturally process and make sense of sound. They have trademarked the term Brain Hearing™ to describe these processes. They have gone as far as to say “we hear with our brains not our ears.” We know it’s a whole system process.

Their research indicates that by providing our brains with the full “Sound Scene” best supports speech understanding. In 2016 they introduced Oticon Opn which claimed an Open approach to process sound.
https://youtu.be/R3B5q1BQ_N0 (Youtube Video Embed)

With the introduction of Oticon Opn in 2016 their Velox ™ Chip supported the new Open Sound Navigator ™ platform. This platform preserves speech information from which ever direction it’s coming from and competing sounds are “re-balanced” so they were present but not overly invasive. This empowers the user to readily switch attention when desired and reduces listening effort.

They depict that other brands use of adaptive directional microphones create too narrow a focus and limit acoustic information to the brain. The message is that this results in listening fatigue as the user has to work harder to switch attention to other sounds and speech surrounding them. Oticon also uses adaptive directional microphones to improve signal to noise ratios and additional programs can be installed with more of a directional focus.

Hearing Problem to Brain Problem

Oticon claims that in limiting the sound scene adversely affects the neural code being delivered to the brain and the improper information turns a hearing problem into a brain problem. Overall their Brain Hearing ™ philosophy is aimed at preventing people from hearing loss related health risks including “dementia, increased risk of depression, accelerated cognitive decline and accelerated brain shrinkage.”

 

Oticon Evolution

The next evolution of Oticon open technology was the release of their Oticon Opn S which featured their new more powerful Velox S™ chip. One of the biggest improvements was with the introduction of their Open Sound Optimiser™ which claimed to be a pro-active feedback cancelling system. This was a needed improvement designed to minimise the likelihood of feedback (annoying whistling or squeaking sounds). This can occur when there are “provocative activities” around the ears including taking on or off glasses, hats or even chewing. Hearing aid amplification is temporarily reduced until feedback ceases which can result in perception of fluctuating amplification and the missing of important speech cues. Although marketed as a “proactive system” it appears to be more of a very fast acting system cancelling feedback within 90ms rather than their former 500ms and approximate industry standard. This enables more open fittings without running into feedback problems. Opn S also introduced the option of their first lithium ions rechargeable hearing aid. The latest Oticon hearing aid is called the More and features some very impressive innovations I will discuss further on.

 

Oticons Marketing

Oticon’s marketing is very strong and they strive to create the perception of differentiation to stand out from other major brands.

 

Oticon Australia

In Australia Demant holdings have vertically integrated many hearing clinics over the years including AudioClinic, Hearing Life and Western Hearing Services. They now largely operate under the name Audika. With over 400 hearing clinics across Australia they have secured their supply chains for Oticon hearing aids. There are a select number of independent hearing clinics including Harmony Hearing that provide the latest Oticon hearing aids at even more competitive prices then the big manufacturer owned chains.

My 15 Years of Fitting Oticon Hearing Aids

For 15 years so far I have enjoyed fitting Oticon hearing aids and the positive outcomes they bring. As an Audiologist running my own practice for the last 10 years I really appreciate the top brands that help you attain the highest satisfaction rates. Your business reputation depends on it. Oticon’s Genie software is simple and intuitive allowing easy fine tuning based on client experiences and feedback.

I remember when Oticon released the Delta models back in 2006. It was quite revolutionary being a very stylish, petite and triangular shaped receiver in the canal hearing aid (RIC). It was marketed as a trendy device designed to reduce the stigma associated with wearing hearing aids. It was hugely popular and effective. I have a client that reported it had worked successfully for him for 12 years and upon needing a repair was deemed obsolete. Perhaps they’ll develop a similar style again.

Easy, Convenient Remote Care

Oticon call their system of Tele-Audiology Remote Care. I find it to be one of best developed and easiest to use systems of several leading brands. I can readily connect and remotely adjust clients hearing aids in real time in the comfort of their home or office. It embeds a live Video chat function into the App for face to face conversation which is great for coaching clients in their effective use and management and troubling shooting issues. As an early adopter of this technology I realised its potential to overcome issues of isolation due to sheer distance in a country as vast as Australia. Some people are also immobile due to frailty, illness or injury and it’s an alternative way of attaining services without having to come into the clinic. I’ve believed for years it’s an easy and convenient way to attain effective Audiology services. Now due to the pandemic it has become mainstream as an essential ingredient in business survival. A way to navigate unpredictable lockdowns and forced social distancing.

 

New Oticon More Hearing Aids 2021

The Oticon More was released on the Australian market in January 2021. The reviews from both users and professionals are excellent. To date it is only available as a rechargeable version as a receiver in the canal style (RIC). It is likely the platform will be rolled out in other styles in the future. They are blue tooth enabled and can connect to both Apple and select Android devices. They feature Oticon’s new Polaris ™ chip platform. By far their most powerful chip platform to date. It builds on the Opn strategy to give you even More of the balanced sound scene “making it easier for the brain to perform optimally.”

More builds on Oticon’s Brain Hearing ™ Philosophy

The New Polaris ™ Chip platform

Owing to the power of its Polaris Chip the Oticon More scans and analyses its environment 500 times per second to orientate the sound scene. It then organises the sounds to create contrast and balance between sounds. Oticon claim that compared to its former Velox S platform there are the following enhancements:

• 16 Times more capacity to execute advanced algorithms
• Intelligent use of Industry leading 64 Channel Processing (Premium models)
• Double the computation capacity and speed
• Deep Neural Network processing (DNN) Mimics the brain.
• Double the precision in 1.5 – 5KHz frequency bands

The increase in processing power enables more in depth sound processing and a better listening experience.

 

A Trained Deep Neural Network

Described as being the only chip platform in the hearing industry that has a trained deep neural network (DNN). They claim this DNN has been trained with 12 million real life sound scenes. It gives the brain more of the information it needs to make sense of sound.

Oticon More Rechargeable (Oticon M-R)

I think it’s great they have brought it out as a rechargeable version first. Some of the benefits of going rechargeable include:

– Convenience of not having to change batteries. Especially if there’s limited dexterity or feeling in the fingers.
– Cost savings of not having to replace batteries.
– Environmentally friendly with less heavy metals from disposable batteries just be thrown into landfill.
– Beyond a full day of wear. A full charge is reached in just 3 hours which gives you about 24 hours of wear time or 20 hours with 4 hours of Bluetooth audio streaming. So well past a full waking day.

You can’t overcharge them and can simply leave them in their charging dock that remains plugged into the power outlet until ready to wear. Even if you forget to charge them over- night a quick 30 minute charge will give you 6 hours of wear time.

The charger is very easy to use. You simply drop the hearing aids into the magnetic slots and they turn off automatically and upon removing them from the dock they’ll turn on automatically. You do need to have an electric current going to the charger (i.e. they dock is plugged into the power outlet). They inductively charge so there’s no copper contacts to worry about making sure they have made proper contact as with some other leading brands. The charging dock has a USB connection to its power adapter. This enables you to also plug it into your car or a portable power storage unit when on the move.

The LED lights on the back of the hearing aids let you know their charge status. Flashing red means very low, flashing orange means about half charge and flashing green means nearly full. Upon reaching full charge the LED light remains on as solid green.

 

Oticon Technology Guide

Oticon More has been released in three technology levels and associated price points. The More 1 is the top of the line or Premium model. More 2 is the Advanced and More 3 is considered Upper-Midrange.
Coming up the levels of technology give you a subtle edge in complex listening environments with competing noise. There’s a legitimate feature set designed to provide better separation of speech sound from competing noise. To improve localisation of where sounds are coming from which reduces listening effort.

I think the biggest jump in technology occurs as you move from Oticon More 2 to the top Oticon More 1 as you go from a 48 Channel to a 64 Channel hearing aid. The more channels the more accurately the hearing aids can shape their amplification to your hearing levels across the frequency range. There is also more opportunity for the hearing aids to improve the signal to noise ratio in each of the frequency bands. The desired signal being speech. More 1’s wider band width up to 10KHz enables you to hear the higher frequency harmonics in speech. This provides further separation of speech from competing sound also reducing listening effort. Please see below the technical specifications of the different Oticon More models.

Which technology level is right for me?

At Harmony Hearing we advocate going for the best technology level you can within your budget. Please keep in mind that this is your hearing and communication ability potentially all day every day for years to come. Quality hearing aids like these should last at least 5 to 7 years before the technology evolves to the point that you may choose to upgrade. So that’s a lot of hearing and communication you will be doing. It is not uncommon for hearing aids to last around 10 years or so if well looked after.

We take into consideration your lifestyle and communication needs when recommending a technology level. If you are quite socially active attending social outings in a diverse range of setting then it would be worth going for the higher end technology. This could include meetings at busy café’s or restaurants. If you lead a relatively quiet lifestyle and mainly just need then to hear better around home and the rare outing then the midrange More 3’s may well meet your needs.

 

Oticon More Fitting Range

Oticon More have a powerful amplifier that give them a broad fitting range. You can interchange their speaker units (receivers) to suit different levels of hearing loss. This enables them to be fitted to people with very mild to profound levels of hearing loss. If your hearing did deteriorate significantly then instead of needing a whole new hearing aid we simply change the speaker unit to one that has suitable power. The following shows the fitting ranges of the different receivers we can use. It also the job of your Audiologist to guide you as the best way the speaker is coupled to your ear. This directly affects the acoustics, physical comfort and security of the device in your ear. For example we could use a type of rubber dome of which there are numerous types and sizes or go with a style of custom fitting acrylic mould.

Oticon More Colours

Oticon More come in a range of colour including the trendy new Hear Pink. It is a shame they did away with one of my favourites Royal Blue. I tend to suggest matching your hair colour but this is purely optional and everyone has unique taste. One of the most popular and appealing colours is Chroma Beige. It is great that hearing aids like these are stylish and double as communication devices.

Tinnitus Sound Support

To help inhibit and manage tinnitus Oticon’s tinnitus sound support can be utilised. Your Audiologist can install additional programs with sound generators to provide additional acoustic stimulation that can inhibit and give relief from tinnitus. For example we may install ocean sounds with a modulated sound like waves lapping up and down on a beach. Many people find this kind of background sound soothing and to have an inhibiting effect on their tinnitus. This can be controlled by the Oticon On App.