The world’s first waterproof cochlear implant processor

20 09 2011

Delivering great hearing in and out of the water. Get ready for a whole new way to hear! Swim, bike, run with it. Sweat on it. No problem!

The Neptune is a new waterproof and dustproof processor from Advanced Bionics with IP68 (ingress protection 6, or dust tight, against solid/foreign bodies and 8, which indicates protection against complete continuous submersion in water). The processor is off the ear and quite small, about the size of a tube of lipstick, and is available in a number of colours.

The controls for the processor are removable, which means you can wear nothing on the ear. The first-ever freestyle design can be worn in any way you like – like an MP3 player, clipped to a collar, swim shirt, bra strap, arm band, bathing cap, hair band, goggles strap, helmet strap, baseball cap, necklace, popped into your pocket, clipped in your hair (or on your chest hair!), or worn with one of the accessories released with the processor. No need to worry about a BTE falling off your ear or getting wet.

All this free-styling means added functionality to your lifestyle – Poof! Pool party here I come! Attend your aerobics class and actually hear the instructor instead of copying the person nearest to you. Participate in family days at the beach. Go biking, running or fishing in the rain. Go biking – the microphone is in the headpiece, which will help with wind noise. Go sailing without worrying about the waves. You can use it in salt water, just be sure to rinse it in fresh water afterwards. Sing along to music in the shower or bath, talk in the hot tub, on your goggles when swimming, when playing your favourite sports …. the choice is yours.

The processor has the latest sound technology from AB with AutoSound automatically adjusting sound levels without the wearer needing to adjust the controls. HiRes Fidelity 120 stimulates 120 points across the auditory nerve for greater enjoyment of music. The addition of ClearVoice allows the wearer to hear speech clearly and easily in noisy situations. The Neptune is only compatible with SoundWave 2.1 or higher, and won’t work with the older C1 implants, however it will run CIS and MPS.

It runs on one disposable or rechargeable AAA battery, giving more than a full day’s worth of hearing on one charge. The 3-pin connector is the standard Europort (IEC 118-6) and standard patch cords are available off the shelf. Plus, it will accept the Phonak MicroLink (and other) FM receivers. A really neat part of Neptune’s engineering is the Neptune Connect, containing the controls and the Europort jack. With this, once the settings are made, that part pops off, leaving a much slimmer profile.

There are two microphone options, one of which is waterproof. The fully submersible microphone is an omni-directional submersible IP68 microphone (IEC 60529), which is in the magnetic headpiece. This microphone allows sound to pass un-attenuated through a protecting hydrophobic membrane, which also blocks water. It does mean the wearer loses the benefits of the T-mic. Bluetooth functionality is not supported.

The Neptune is generating a lot of excitement in the cochlear implant community.  A cochlear implant user says – “I wonder what things will sound like underwater! Does anybody remember playing in the pool, talking with your friend? It sounded like muffled bubble words! Maybe this will be another situation in which AB cochlear implant users will hear even better than their normally hearing peers!!”

The Neptune will be available in the UK from December 2011; you could purchase one if you want, but the NHS will only provide a unilateral recipient with one speech processor. The Neptune is currently awaiting regulatory approval in the USA, and is already approved in Canada.

To summarise, the Neptune’s advantages are that it is waterproof, there is nothing worn on the ear, and it accepts conventional and rechargeable batteries. The disadvantages are that the microphone location inconveniences phone users, you can’t use Bluetooth with it, and you may have problems deciding (or finding) a place to clip it.

… so how am I going to skinny dip?

Neptune technical specifications

Neptune brochure

Let's get wet!

Ready to swim

FM Neptune



Neptune connect


Neptune header with FM

Ready for bath time

Ready for the rain

Fun in the hot tub

Neptune clip




16 responses

20 09 2011
Wasserscheuheit adieu? Im Ernst? | Not quite like Beethoven

[…] Eine offizielle Seite gibt es noch nicht, Informationen finden sich hier, hier und in Tinas (englischem) Blog. […]

20 09 2011
Howard Samuels

Thank you, Google Translate! The Neptune has been approved for sale in Canada. The approval came very quickly, and AB is busy training audiologists on its use. Once AB is prepared to distribute the Neptune, the information will be available on the web site of each country where it is available.

Tina, let me know if you need help skinny dipping! (hint: clip it onto your hair)

20 09 2011

I wonder how long before it lands in our part of the world? I’ve had a miscommunication issue with a shark which I intend to rectify. Great post, Tina. 🙂

20 09 2011

HA HA! A sense of humour is soooo important 😛

20 09 2011
Nanci Linke Ellis

It should be very soon. I’m going to be checking it out on Friday when they test it on me 🙂 I’ve seen it and it’s sleek. I didn’t get why anyone would want to wear it in the pool until someone reminded me of my frustrating jacuzzi events – so I had an aha moment. Looking forward to it, that’s for sure.

20 09 2011

Ohhh! I would be very interested in your feedback! Do come back and tell us all about it 🙂

21 09 2011
Greg Flanagan

Tina do you know how deep you can take the Neptune??

21 09 2011
Ginny Driscoll (@CIMusicResearch)

If I remember from seeing it in Greece, they tested it at 3 meters (don’t hold me to that) so that it would work in most swimming pools

21 09 2011
Nanci Linke Ellis

Hi Ginny – where are you located? I’d like to talk to you about CI music research.

21 09 2011

Nancy – she is at The University of Iowa –


27 09 2011

Can you take it in saltwater?

6 11 2011

This is new to me because I am going through a lot of testing before I can get an implant into one of my ear. I want to make sure that I can get the latest technology with Bluetooth availability at my request. I want a waterproof with a built-in Bluetooth because I want to be hand free and able to work with both hands. Also with my mobile cell phone, so that I can work easy without any problem.

6 07 2012

Does anyone know the cost of a Neptune in Canada or the USA?

12 07 2012
Howard Samuels

It’s around $8000. Expensive, but comparable to any CI processor. You may be able to convince your insurance company that it is necessary, or that your existing processor has exceeded its useful life.

13 10 2012

address of neptune implant user in india

29 07 2013
hareh chudasama

I have compete implant my son and I want purchase this prouct

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