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GN Hearing and Google Partner to Enable Direct Streaming from Android Devices to Hearing Aids

 

GN Hearing and Google Partner to Enable Direct Streaming from Android Devices to Hearing Aids

GN Hearing logo

GN Hearing and Google have announced a new technology partnership that will reportedly make GN Hearing the first manufacturer to enable a full spectrum of direct audio streaming from Android devices to hearing aids. In a future Android release, direct streaming may also become available for ReSound LiNX Quattro™ and Beltone Amaze™ hearing aid users.

“According to the World Health Organization, around 466 million peopleworldwide have disabling hearing loss,” said Seang Chau, vice president of engineering at Google. “This number is expected to increase to 900 million people by the year 2050. Google is working with GN Hearing to create a new open specification for hearing aid streaming support on future versions of Android devices.”

According to the joint announcement, users will be able to connect and monitor their hearing aids without using an intermediate device for streaming from Android phones and tablets to their hearing aids.

“We are honored to partner with Google for this important development, which will enable direct streaming for even more hearing aid users through their Android devices,” said Anders Hedegaard, CEO, GN Hearing. “This is another example of how GN Hearing relentlessly strives to drive innovation forward by developing new products and solutions with unique benefits for hearing aid users and audiologists around the world.”

Google has published the new hearing aid specification for Android smartphones available here: Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA) on Bluetooth Low Energy Connection-Oriented Channels.

The Henley Hearing Clinic is the place where you will find the very latest in digital hearing tech. If you need hearing aids, streaming devices or ear wax removal we do it all. Hearing loss in no longer a condition that is not treatable.

Source: GN Hearing, Google

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Best hearing test in Henley,Bucks

Best hearing test in Henley,Bucks

Henley hearing clinic: News

The very best hearing test in Henley is at the Henley hearing Clinic, Buckinghamshire. We have the very latest technology to make your hearing test the very best out there. No compromising! You hearing health is the most important thing we care about.

Phonak Wins Three Red Dot Product Design Awards

Phonak hearing aids are available at the Henley Hearing Clinic.

Phonak Virto B-Titanium

Phonak, a global provider of hearing aids and wireless communication solutions, has been honored with three international Red Dot Awards for excellence in product design, the company announced. The product award winners include: Virto B-Titanium, said to be “the world’s first” mainstream titanium custom hearing aid; Audéo B-Direct, a Bluetooth®* hearing aid that is designed to directly connect to both a cell phone** and TV; and EasyView Otoblock, a product for hearing care professionals that is designed to allow for deeper ear impressions. The winners were celebrated at the Red Dot Gala earlier this month in Essen, Germany.

“Three Red Dot Award winners in one year is proof of what happens when you combine Phonak’s dedication to superior product design with a neverending quest to push the limits of innovation,” said Thomas Lang, senior vice president at Phonak. “Receiving honors for the Virto B-Titanium and EasyView Otoblock is a tribute to the amount of research and development Phonak devotes to producing the most cosmetically appealing and highest quality custom products on the market. Meanwhile, the awards for the revolutionary Audéo B-Direct keep on adding up!”

Virto B-Titanium

According to Phonak, the Virto B-Titanium is “the world’s first mainstream” custom hearing aid made of premium medical-grade titanium. It was designed to combine the benefits of titanium including superior strength and an extra light weight with the latest in 3D printing technology.

Audéo B-Direct

With the Audéo B-Direct, hearing aid wearers can answer or reject a phone call and talk completely hands-free by pressing the push button on their hearing aid. Meanwhile, the optional TV Connector uses proprietary AirStream™ technology to help connect wearers to their favorite TV programming for an immersive audio experience.

EasyView Otoblock

The EasyView Otoblock is designed to give hearing care professionals the ability to take deeper ear impressions by allowing “full visualization” of the eardrum, according to the company. Made from the seal of a Phonak Lyric™, the EasyView Otoblock attaches to existing otoscopes and speculas and is designed to provide better vision and light during Otoblock placement. It’s compatible with standard impression-making materials and stays on the impression during the scanning process, according to the company’s announcement. This may result in an average of 6mm more canal length information.

“I want to congratulate the award winners sincerely on their wonderful success in the Red Dot Award: Product Design 2018,” said Professor Dr Peter Zec, founder and CEO of the Red Dot Award. “Success in the competition is proof of the good design quality of the products and once again shows that companies are on the right path. When I speak about good design, I am referring to more than just an attractive product. All of the products are characterized by outstanding functionality. This demonstrates that the designers have understood their clients and their needs.”

For an inside look into the people behind Phonak’s Red Dot Award-winning products, visit:

Phonak Virto-B titanium 2018 Red Dot Award
Audéo B-Direct
Phonak EasyView Otoblock 2018 Red Dot Award

Three Red Dot Awards for Phonak in 2018

For more information, please visit www.phonak.com or www.phonakpro.com.

* Bluetooth is a registered trademark owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc; Android™ is a trademark owned by Google, Inc
** with Bluetooth® 4.2 wireless technology and most older Bluetooth phones.

Source: Phonak
Image: Phonak
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Neurofeedback May Reduce Severity of Tinnitus, Study Shows

Neurofeedback May Reduce Severity of Tinnitus, Study Shows

Henley Hearing Clinic

Researchers using functional MRI (fMRI) have found that neurofeedback training has the potential to reduce the severity of tinnitus or even eliminate it, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), the international society of radiologists, medical physicists, and other medical professionals announced on its website.

sherwood_fig_1

The standard approach to fMRI neurofeedback.

 Tinnitus is the perception of noise, often ringing, in the ear. The condition is very common, affecting approximately one in five people. As sufferers start to focus on it more, they become more frustrated and anxious, which in turn makes the noise seem worse. The primary auditory cortex, the part of the brain where auditory input is processed, has been implicated in tinnitus-related distress.

For the study, researchers looked at a novel potential way to treat tinnitus by having people use neurofeedback training to turn their focus away from the sounds in their ears. Neurofeedback is a way of training the brain by allowing an individual to view some type of external indicator of brain activity and attempt to exert control over it.

“The idea is that in people with tinnitus there is an over-attention drawn to the auditory cortex, making it more active than in a healthy person,” said Matthew S. Sherwood, PhD, research engineer and adjunct faculty in the Department of Biomedical, Industrial, and Human Factors Engineering at Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio. “Our hope is that tinnitus sufferers could use neurofeedback to divert attention away from their tinnitus and possibly make it go away.”

Matthew S. Sherwood, PhD

Matthew S. Sherwood, PhD

To determine the potential efficacy of this approach, the researchers had 18 healthy volunteers with normal hearing undergo five fMRI-neurofeedback training sessions. Study participants were given earplugs through which white noise could be introduced for periods of time. The earplugs also served to block out the scanner noise.

sherwood_fig_2

Overview of the experimental design. Each participant completed 5 sessions.

To obtain fMRI results, the researchers used single-shot echo planar imaging, an MRI technique that is sensitive to blood oxygen levels, providing an indirect measure of brain activity.

“We started with alternating periods of sound and no sound in order to create a map of the brain and find areas that produced the highest activity during the sound phase,”  Sherwood said. “Then we selected the voxels that were heavily activated when sound was being played.”

The volunteers then participated in the fMRI-neurofeedback training phase while inside the MRI scanner. They received white noise through their earplugs and were able to view the activity in their primary auditory cortex as a bar on a screen. Each fMRI-neurofeedback training run contained eight blocks separated into a 30-second “relax” period followed by a 30-second “lower” period. Participants were instructed to watch the bar during the relax period and actively attempt to lower it by decreasing primary auditory cortex activity during the lower phase.

Neurofeedback training paradigm.

Neurofeedback training paradigm.

The researchers gave the participants techniques to help them do this, such as trying to divert attention from sound to other sensations like touch and sight.

“Many focused on breathing because it gave them a feeling of control,” Sherwood said. “By diverting their attention away from sound, the participants’ auditory cortex activity went down, and the signal we were measuring also went down.”

A control group of nine individuals were provided sham neurofeedback—they performed the same tasks as the other group, but the feedback came not from them but from a random participant. By performing the exact same procedures with both groups using either real or sham neurofeedback, the researchers were able to distinguish the effect of real neurofeedback on control of the primary auditory cortex.

Control over the primary auditory cortex (A1 control) separated by group and session. The experimental group was found to have significantly higher control, averaged across training, than the control group.

Control over the primary auditory cortex (A1 control) separated by group and session. The experimental group was found to have significantly higher control, averaged across training, than the control group.

Whole brain effects of neurofeedback training.

Whole brain effects of neurofeedback training.

Effect of emotion on attention. Emotional distractors resulted in a significantly larger change in response latency in the experimental group when compared to the control group. However, the impact of emotion on attention was not found to change significantly between the groups across training.

Effect of emotion on attention. Emotional distractors resulted in a significantly larger change in response latency in the experimental group when compared to the control group. However, the impact of emotion on attention was not found to change significantly between the groups across training.

Activation of the primary auditory cortex in response to binaural stimulation. Activation significantly decreased from session 1 to session 5.

Activation of the primary auditory cortex in response to binaural stimulation. Activation significantly decreased from session 1 to session 5.

Improvements in control over the primary auditory cortex were found to be significantly related to decreases in the effect of emotion on attention.

Improvements in control over the primary auditory cortex were found to be significantly related to decreases in the effect of emotion on attention.

The study reportedly represents the first time fMRI-neurofeedback training has been applied to demonstrate that there is a significant relationship between control of the primary auditory cortex and attentional processes. This is important to therapeutic development, Sherwood said, as the neural mechanisms of tinnitus are unknown but likely related to attention.

The results represent a promising avenue of research that could lead to improvements in other areas of health like pain management, according to Sherwood.

“Ultimately, we’d like take what we learned from MRI and develop a neurofeedback program that doesn’t require MRI to use, such as an app or home-based therapy that could apply to tinnitus and other conditions,” he said.

Co-authors are Emily E. Diller, MS; Subhashini Ganapathy, PhD; Jeremy Nelson, PhD; and Jason G. Parker, PhD. This material is based on research sponsored by the US Air Force under agreement number FA8650-16-2-6702. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official views or policy of the Department of Defense and its Components. The US Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Governmental purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation thereon. The voluntary, fully informed consent of the subjects used in this research was obtained as required by 32 CFR 219 and DODI 3216.02_AFI 40-402.

Source: RSNA

Images: RSNA

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Want to know what A.I. Hell is like?

How about interacting with a machine that repeatedly professes stupefaction when you just know it should know what you’re talking about?

I was excited when I heard last fall that Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google’s new wireless ear pieces would perform a kind of “real time” translation of languages, as it was billed.

The ear pieces, “Pixel Buds,” which arrived in the mail the other day, turn out to be rather limited and somewhat frustrating.

They are in a sense just a new way to be annoyed by the shortcomings of Google’s A.I., Google Assistant.

The devices were unveiled at Google’s “Made By Google” hardware press conference in early October, where it debuted its new Pixel 2 smartphone, which I’ve positively reviewed in this space, and its new “mini” version of the “Google Home” appliance.

The Buds retail for $159 and can be ordered from Google’s online store.

Google’s Pixel Buds: ‘Sorry, Can’t Help, But Always Learning’

Getting the things to pair with the Pixel 2 Plus that I use was problematic at first, but eventually succeeded after a series of attempts. I’ve noticed some similar issues with other Bluetooth-based devices, so I soldiered on and got it to work.

The sound quality and the fit is fine. The device is very lightweight, and the tether that connects the two ear pieces — they are not completely wireless like Apple’s (AAPL) AirPods — snakes around the back of one’s neck and is not uncomfortable.

The adjustable loops on each ear piece made the buds fit in my ears comfortably and stay there while I moved around. So, good job, Google, on industrial design.

Translating was another story.

One has to first install Google Translate, an application from Google of which I’m generally a big fan. Google supports translation in the app of 40 languages initially.

You invoke the app by putting your finger to the touch-sensitive spot on the right ear piece and saying something like, “Help me to speak Greek.” When you lift your finger, it invokes the Google Assistant on the Pixel 2 phone, who tells you in the default female voice that she will launch the Translate app.

Google’s Pixel Buds: ‘Sorry, Can’t Help, But Always Learning’

Several times, however, the assistant told me she had no idea how to help. Sometimes she understood the request the second time around. It seemed to be hit or miss whether my command was understood or was valid. On a number of other occasions, she told me she couldn’t yet help with a particular language, even though the language was among the 40 offered. It seemed like more common languages, such as French and Spanish, elicited little protest. But asking for, say, the Georgian language to be translated stumped her, even though Georgian is in the set of supported tongues.

This dialogue with the machine to get my basic wishes fulfilled fell very far below the Turing Test:

Me: “Help me to speak Greek.”

Google: “Sorry, I’m not sure how to help with that yet.”

Me: “Help me to translate Greek.”

Google: “Sure, opening Google Translate.”

Me: “Help me to speak Georgian.”

Google: “Sorry, I’m not sure how to help with that.”

Me: “Help me to speak Georgian.”

Google: “Sorry, I don’t understand.”

Me: “Help me to speak Georgian.”

Google: “Sorry, I can’t help with that yet, but I’m always learning.”

Me: “Help me to translate Georgian.”

Google: “Sorry, I don’t know how to help with that.”

In answer to Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, who writes of a new era of “continuous learning” for humans, I would like all humans to tell their future robot masters, “Sorry, I can’t help with that yet, but I’m always learning.”

When it does work, the process of translating is a little underwhelming. The app launches, and you touch the right ear piece’s touch-sensitive area, and speak your phrase in your native language. As you’re speaking, Google Translate is turning that into transcribed text on the screen, in the foreign script. When you are fully done speaking, the entire phrase is played back in the foreign language through the phone’s speaker for your interlocutor to hear. That person can then press an icon in the Translate app and speak to you in their native tongue, and their phrase is played for you, translated, through your ear piece.

Google’s Pixel Buds: ‘Sorry, Can’t Help, But Always Learning’

Even this doesn’t always go smoothly. Sometimes, after asking for help with one language, the Google Assistant would launch the Translate app and the app would be stuck on the previously used language. At other times, it was just fine. In the worst instances, the application would tell me it was having audio issues when I would tap the ear piece to speak, requiring me to kill the app and start again.

This is all rather cumbersome.

I went and tried Translate on my iPhone 7 Plus, using Apple’s AirPods, and had pretty much an equivalent experience, with somewhat less frustration. All I had to do was to double-tap the AirPods and say, “Launch Google Translate,” and then continue from there as normal. It’s slightly more limited in that the iPhone’s speaker is not playing back the translation for my interlocutor; that plays through the AirPods. But on the flip side, it’s actually a little easier to use the app because one can maintain a kind of “open mic” by pressing the microphone icon. The app will then continuously listen for whichever language is spoken, translating back and forth between the two constantly, rather than having to tell it at each turn who’s speaking.

All in all, then, Pixel Buds are just a fancy interface to Google Translate, which doesn’t seem to me revolutionary, and is rather less than what I’d hoped for, and very kludgy. It’s a shame, because I like Google Translate, and I like the whole premise of this enterprise.

At any rate, back to school, Google, keep learning.

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How to buy your hearing aid?

As a hearing professional who has sat in front of NHS patients, one of the most common questions I was asked was, how do I go about getting a better hearing aid? However, owing to departmental impartially little advice or assistance was advised. These patients were largely left to their own devices to source more satisfactory solutions. Now sat in front of my private patients it is apparent that they are still ill informed and unaware of the vastly different options available to them. Leaving me to be the primary person answering their questions, which can be difficult to fit into a 90 minute consultation. After visiting several different health professionals, typically their G.P., NHS audiology, a national hearing aid company and doing internet research the patient arrives not knowing typical price structures, difference in clinical qualifications (competence) for achieving optimum outcomes, the importance of technology level and service packages in achieving satisfaction. Therefore I thought I would offer some advice based on the Which Magazine report.

If you decide to buy hearing aids rather than go to the NHS the price of the hearing aids is bundled with the service and follow up. In order to compare hearing aid prices it is important to compare like for like only. So make sure you know what is included. You are buying a whole on-going package not just a one off purchase. Independent hearing aid centres tend to be cheaper and have more flexibility when offering products because they are not generally tied to manufacturers. National companies tend to offer older technologies at lower price points, have higher overheads and therefore premium products are often more expensive and often they do not verify the fitting of the hearing aid which is important to ensure correct prescription. Hearing aid devices last on average 3 to 5 years, so you will need to build in the cost of replacing them. Manufacturer’s guarantees are attached to service packages to a maximum of 5 years, manufacturer’s guarantees are essential as you are buying an electronic device that can go wrong. Lifetime aftercare is a gimmick term used by companies to give you a false perception of the life of the hearing aid and the ongoing costs, it is a valueless term, as any quality independent hearing aid centre will always look after you and your hearing aid once you have purchased a hearing aid on an ongoing basis.

Ongoing costs can include batteries, domes and wax guards which can total an average spend of £50 to £100 per year. With some independents this cost is included in their premium packages. Batteries can be purchased for between £2 and £4 a pack (6 batteries).

There are 7 main manufacturers who all have four current ranges and therefore four price points. The four ranges are a basic, mid-level, advanced and premium level, with the performance and cost increasing as you go up the range. Average prices are from £500 to £3500 per hearing aid. The average spend in the UK is £3k for a pair of hearing aids. At Chalfont Hearing are prices range from £750 to £2000 per hearing aid with a basic service package. If you buy mid-level hearing aids from high street hearing centres you are likely to get older or lesser quality technology than obtainable from independent hearing centres. If you buy premium hearing aids (from high street hearing centres, like Boots, Specsavers, Hidden Hearing) you will often pay an unnecessary premium for exactly the same product. Hearing aids supplied by the NHS (such as the Oticon Zest) are mid-level technology and were released to the private market in 2008, they have since been super-seeded by 2 generations. We would advise against going for cheap hearing aids especially those under £500-£600 pounds as they are often old or extremely basic technology, these hearing aids maybe ‘OK’ for housebound elderly patients who can not get to the hospital but will offer limited benefit.

However getting value for money is about more than just the cost of the instruments. Actually the price is fairly trivial, its about service and therefore the difference of whether the hearing aids work or not. The amount you pay should reflect the quality of the instrument, the service and your lifestyle requirements. If your lifestyle is fairly relaxed and you rarely leave the house a more basic hearing aid is perfect, if you are still working and socially active then you will need something more premium.

Key questions to ask if you are buying a hearing aid:

1. Have you been offered a choice, have you reviewed the pro’s and con’s of different hearing aid styles and features?

2. Have you trialled them to see if they actually benefit you?

3. What is the warranty period (repairs and replacement)?

4. What level and quality will the fitting be done to?

5. How will the aftercare be delivered?

Five things to watch out for:

1. Some companies offer free guides on hearing aids and follow these up with home visits. They are often lead generation companies who operate in a sales based way.

2. Do not buy hearing aids online without a full hearing assessment, the hearing aid is only as good as the programming.

3. If you are shopping around, only compare ‘like for like’. That includes make, manufacturer, warranty, aftercare, additional extras, qualification of clinician and quality of premises and equipment.

4. Some companies have tie ins with manufacturers, this includes the NHS and therefore options will be limited if this is the case.

5. You should not need to replace hearing aids more than once every 3 years.

For your piece of mind Chalfont hearing Centre have considered and incorporated all of this information into our service delivery model to ensure our patients get the best advice on hearing aids possible. To have a hearing test and get informed and impartial information contact 01494 765144.

http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/bathroom-and-personal-care/guides/how-to-get-the-best-hearing-aid/how-to-buy-your-hearing-aids/

We are now supporting - Amersham & Chesham Hard of Hearing Club

When patients begin to tackle their hearing loss, I have found that many feel like they are the only person experiencing what they are going through. Most patients display very similar issues and concerns. However, there is not always positive and constructive advice available. That is why Chalfont Hearing are supporting the local Hard of Hearing Club. This organisation provides the opportunity to meet other people who are similarly affected and discuss new experiences. We promote a holistic and engaging approach to rehabilitation of hearing loss.

This Club has been in existence for over 30 years and is the only one of its kind now remaining in the Bucks, Berks, Herts and Oxon area. It is a friendly and caring club, supporting its members, who have widely differing degrees of hearing loss. During its yearly programme there are at least two evenings devoted to ” Hearing Matters,” while other speakers inform and entertain on a variety of topics. They welcome members from a wide area and try to publicise the benefits the Club has to offer by attending Open Days such as the event held by Chalfont Hearing Centre, whose welcome at the event was much appreciated.

This ” Cindarella of Disabilities” is at last beginning to reach a greater understanding by the general public, and support and advice is becoming more easily available. The Club aims to provide an informal and happy environment for older men and women for whom isolation and lack of communication would become a real problem.

They are always pleased to welcome enquiries and visitors.CONTACT: Kate Weber, 7 Webb Close, Chesham, Bucks, HP5 2JQ ( 01494-773359; Text Messages: 07757 639066)

Hearing Aid and Tinnitus Exhibition

Would you like to know more about hearing aids? Have you struggled to find impartial professional information about the latest digital hearing aid technology? Do you suffer from Tinnitus (‘ringing in the ears’ or ‘hissing noises’)?  Then the Buckinghamshire Hearing Aid and Tinnitus Exhition is the perfect place for you!

2013’s exhibition will be held at the Village Hall, Little Chalfont, Amersham, Bucks.

The day provides the opportunity to speak to all of the worlds leading hearing aid manufacturers. This years attendee’s include Widex, Unitron, Phonak, Oticon, Starkey, Soundcure, Bucks hard of hearing club, NHS and Chalfont Hearing Centre.

There will be Free hearing tests, Demonstrations, Discounts, Bitesize technology talks and Refreshments. As well as opportunities to meet other people with hearing loss and share experiences and advice.

Registration for the day will enter attendees for a prize draw, discounts and a free hearing test. Call 01494 765144 to register