New cochlear implant processor from Advanced Bionics

19 01 2013

AB's next gen BTE

The next generation cochlear implant processor has been rolled out by Advanced Bionics, enhanced with Phonak’s high-performance hearing aid technology, achieving an industry first in bimodal technology. The processor will be launched in the UK within the next few weeks, so it will be some time before it is actually available as the audiology clinicians will require training prior to provision – this processor has the most exciting list of goodies!

The new processor is 40% smaller than the Harmony, Advanced Bionic’s previous BTE processor – in the photo below, the Harmony is on the left, a hearing aid is on the right, and the new processor is in the middle. It’s thinner and lighter – it is smaller in size, but larger than life in performance. The processor is available in lots of colourways.

Colour wheel

Size

Features

UltraZoom – The user can focus on a speaker in front of them in a noisy environment.

ClearVoice – Sound is automatically analysed to filter out environmental sounds from the speech signal, improving understanding of speech in noise by up to 55%.

The SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) is how much louder a voice is in relation to other background noise. Children need a speaker to be 15 decibels louder than background noise in order to be easily understood. Adults only need a SNR increase of 4 to 6 decibels. When UltraZoom is used with ClearVoice by a unilateral user, up to 6.5 dB SNR is obtained. The future capability of these combined features mean bilateral users will benefit with up to 70% improvement in understanding speech in noise.

HiRes Optima – Advanced Bionics’ newest sound processing strategy optimises battery life.

T-Mic – The unique T-mic is a microphone situated at the ear canal, utilizing the ear’s natural capability to gather sound for optimal listening.

HiRes Fidelity 120 – This is the only sound strategy in the cochlear implant industry that uses 120 spectral bands to deliver five times more sound resolution than any other cochlear implant processor. This means sounds are richer, fuller, and more natural.

AutoSound – The widest range of sounds, from softest to loudest, up to 80 IDR (Input Dynamic Range), are automatically adjusted to.

WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY

Matt has a Harmony processor, a Oticon Safari 900 SP hearing aid, and an iConnect. He wants to pair his laptop to his Harmony via Bluetooth – he hates wires everywhere and wants to do his auditory rehabilitation at his desk in a noisy open plan office. The easiest solution for Matt is to use a Phonak Smartlink with an MLXi FM receiver, but this is expensive. To access Bluetooth, the iConnect is needed to attach the processor to cables, neck loop, or Bluetooth headphones. Advanced Bionics advised Matt that the best solution is to upgrade to a Phonak hearing aid and the new Advanced Bionics processor with all its connectivity options…..

Phonak ComPilot – With the ComPilot, Matt can link wirelessly to a wide variety of devices such as mobile phones, computers, Bluetooth, media players, TVs, navigation systems, and FM systems.

Phonak RemoteMic – Speech is streamed directly and wirelessly to both ears, making it easier for Matt to listen to speech in noisy places.

Phonak TVLink – Audio is streamed directly to Matt’s cochlear implant processor so he can listen to the TV.

Advanced Bionics myPilot – With this remote control, Matt can change his processor settings.

*** Bimodal Technology ***

For the first time, Matt is able to wirelessly and simultaneously stream sound to a Phonak hearing aid and an Advanced Bionics cochlear implant processor. This is a hugely exciting stride forward in cochlear implant technology, merging the technologies available from Phonak and Advanced Bionics.

Phonak ComPilot

Phonak RemoteMic

Phonak TVLink

AB myPilot

BILATERAL HEARING

The new cochlear implant processor is very exciting for bilateral listeners – such as me! Phonak Binaural VoiceStream Technology™ will allow me to hear speech and phone calls, adjust volume, and change programs – simultaneously.

Features

ZoomControl – I will be able to focus on a speaker situated on either side of me, to help me hear better in noisy places.

DuoPhone – My phone calls can be automatically streamed to both ears so I can hear voices in stereo, with a higher level of speech perception from binaural hearing.

QuickSync – Both processors can be adjusted instantly at the same time.

Future Developments

There is yet more to come from Advanced Bionics – WindBlock, EchoBlock, and SoundRelax.Windblock Echoblock SoundRelaxCochlear implant processors are entering an exciting phase of development as all manufacturers are expected to come out with new processors this year.

Watch this space!

Advanced Bionics
Brochure: Next Gen Processor
Phonak: Dynamic FM





Phone call #8

2 09 2010

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I called Stu and guess what, he is a cochlear implant user as well! I find it amazing that two profoundly deaf people can just pick up the phone and talk to each other.

Stu gave me the name of a country and worked his way down the list above.

Then he made up a list of his own;

United States
Kazakhstan
Russia
Pakistan
Afghanistan
New Zealand
Fiji
Borneo
Malaysia
Vietnam
Cambodia
Chile
Uruguay

This was a fun exercise to do, although I was distracted by the noise of my dog eating his breakfast and crunching on his biscuits. I managed to get all the countries – eventually – and the high point was being able to hear the difference between Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan! Stu thought I answered the vast majority with confidence. I found that the difficult words were ones which were a bit short, unusual, or unexpected. I had a problem with understanding Brazil (Br sound), Mexico (unusual x sound), and Fiji (too short and unexpected).

I had wondered if I was holding my phone wrong. I have a Blackberry and hold it with the keypad against my face. There is a little grille on the back so I turned the phone over, but Stu’s voice was too quiet so I switched back to talking into the keypad. All my phone calls are with an IDR of 70, ClearVoice medium, and 100% T-mic.

I think anticipation plays a large part in learning to trust your hearing; it plays such a large part in lipreading that I’m automatically working out what I think was said and making it fit, instead of believing I heard what was said. Tricky, this!





Welcome to Everything

13 07 2010

As I settled down into my Airbus 380 seat, I wondered how Emirates would compare to British Arseways. I love watching movies so flicked through the channels. There was the usual selection of languages, quite a larger selection than I was used to, and right at the bottom was a channel for closed captions. A whole movie channel with captions – I was thrilled! I decided to try out the airline’s headphones but there was no sound. I got another pair, tried those, and bingo I could hear all the movie sound effects. With the subtitles, it was magical. The headphones fit over my cochlear implant just like a hearing person would wear them, they picked up the sound directly from Advanced Bionics’ T-mic microphone that sat at the entrance to my ear. No jiggling to get the positioning right to pick up sound. No turning the volume up to the max. It was simple, just put the headphones on and turn up the volume slightly. The cabin crew had been informed I was deaf, and they were super attentive towards me. It’s so nice when a hot guy pours a nice drink, pulls out the table and sets it all up for you with a huge smile …. and just chucks the drinks at the other passengers 🙂

Unfortunately this wasn’t a holiday but a working trip for my deaf awareness training business. (They were amazed that I could lip read them in Arabic. Tee hee.) The Marhaba welcome service whisked us through passport control and I stepped into the 43C heat of Dubai. Although it was hot and dry, every building and car was air conditioned. Walking anywhere was a no-no. Why can’t we have more air conditioning in Britain? The Arabs were super appreciative and welcoming, the food was just great, and I loved working with them. Dubai is like Canary Wharf with beaches, with scorching hot weather thrown in.  A new sound for me was the beep as I used the card to open my hotel room door – I never knew this made a sound. The hotel receptionist just didn’t understand my adjustment needs, that I wouldn’t be able to hear a fire alarm or knock at the door in an emergency, that they would have to enter my room to wake me. He kept saying they would knock on the door. He didn’t have a tooty clue.

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The Burj Khalifa,  the tallest building in the world, reached gracefully into the sky for over half a mile, and I just HAD to pay a visit. Click on this link to see it for yourself!

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I stepped into the elevator and the doors closed silently. I waited. And waited. The doors opened after 15 seconds and surprisingly we had arrived! It had been such a smooth ride that we hadn’t even realised the elevator was moving, and it is one of the world’s fastest elevators. At the observation deck on the 124th floor, I stood and looked down on people ants and toy cars, rivers of ribbon and splashes of azure blue where pools shone like jewels in the desert. The views were hazy but I could see from the Gulf coast to the Arabian desert,  I could look down on The World. The building had another 32 floors but these were residential – all sitting staring vacantly into space as there are no takers. I returned to the ground floor and explored one of the largest shopping malls in the world, with over 700 shops in the gold souk alone. (This was when my purse started to sweat mightily)

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Outside the Burj Khalifa, the 30 acre lake sparkled seductively in the setting sun and classical music began to play. The world’s largest dancing fountain, The Dubai Fountain, jumped 500 feet in time with the music as it danced and pirouetted around us. It was lovely to be able to hear this. This fountain ‘performs’ every half hour, every evening, at an eye-watering cost of £15,000 each time.

Check here for my video of Dubai Fountain.

I really enjoyed the beautiful architecture of the city and the attention to detail, the Atlantis at Palm Jumeirah, the amazing Burj Al-Arab shaped like a sailboat, skyscrapers built like razor blades, the traditional designs at the Dubai Mall, train stations shaped like fat cigars, smoother than smooth roads (no potholes! Can you believe it?). Close up, the detail was reminiscent of Moroccan art.

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Everywhere was sparking clean and new. Every restaurant and hotel had wonderful cakes and snacks on display. I was soooo tempted! The food was as good as the Arab hospitality.

The palatial hotel wasn’t a patch on the British ones (or maybe I just need to get out more). Check out this five hour massage – I might just book this the next time I visit! The hotel felt quite impersonal as it was so big. But it was certainly impressive and the staff were wonderful. Yet more sweet guys pouring coffee for me. Yippee. I like!

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Bigger? Better? Best? You bet!

When I left Dubai, it was such a hassle trying to get appropriate airline seats with my interpreter. She had to sit across the aisle from me so I could see her when the cabin crew spoke to me. Our reserved seats had disappeared and they couldn’t understand the concept of a hearing loss making me vulnerable in an emergency, that I needed my interpreter with me so I could have access to information. If this had been British Arseways, we might have got an upgrade, but Emirates scrabbled around and finally found us appropriate seats. The Marhaba service hadn’t been booked for our return flights as the assumption was that we wouldn’t need it. Lesson learned there!

As we arrived at Heathrow, a passenger behind me took his suitcase out of the overhead cabin and dropped it on my head. It missed my cochlear implant by an inch. I demonstrated a remarkable level of self control and said nothing but he did get the filthiest look from me.

My first thoughts on going through passport control? How dirty it all is. I love pristine marble floors and hate grubby carpets. I love air conditioning and hate sweating under the glare of fluorescent lights. I love Marhaba whisking me through passport control and hate standing in a long queue. I just wanted to turn around and go back, and have Dubai say ‘Welcome To Everything’ all over again.

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Assimilation: Two months

31 05 2010

It has been 2 months since activation. What can I hear now?

Animals seem to have taken over my world. I have a large leafy garden and can hear birds all day long, not just blackbirds, but magpies, starlings, a lovely orchestra of TWEET TWEET, TRIILLLLL, CHIRP CHIRP, PING PING, COO COO, PEEP PEEP. I love sitting outside listening to them. At the moment I am hearing around ten different types of bird calls. One night I cracked up laughing. I could hear 3 birds singing to each other, they sounded like a phone ringing, knocking at the door and the doorbell. When night falls, all the birds fall silent. Then the dog next door starts barking and carries on for an hour. Then my own dog starts barking in his sleep. I have also heard our cat miaow. I haven’t heard our foxes yet and we have plenty!

Lower frequency sounds have started to come back. I can hear the rumble of traffic and the bus engine. Sounds I am enjoying listening to are male voices. Those sexy, rumbling, low, growly voices. I’m fascinated by how different they are from female voices. Who woulda thought a voice could be so attractive?

I have been able to hear a teeny bit on the phone. No special equipment required! I use my implant as normal, on 100% T-mic microphone, pick up my mobile phone, and put it to my ear as any hearing person would. The T-mic mimics the hearing ear as it is positioned at the ear canal, aiding directional listening by collecting sound in a more natural fashion than a hearing aid or other brand of cochlear implant. I do need lots more practice in discriminating words before I can use the phone easily. Considering I have been deaf all my life and have never used the phone, this blows my mind. I love hearing voices as it is like the captions have been shoved straight into my brain, the understanding is just there. It seems so effortless when it happens.

I have been able to hear speech in other situations too. Last weekend, I was the 2nd photographer at a wedding, working with Amanda, the 1st photographer.

Michelle and Lee, the newly-wed couple, were standing in an archway. Amanda was taking photos from the inside of the building whilst I was taking photos from the outside.

Michelle and Lee were kissing for this shot and they kept kissing. The kisses became slower and longer. More lingering. I didn’t really know where to look. I started thinking “Hey guys, maybe time to get a room?”

Then out of nowhere, I clearly heard Amanda shouting “Again! Again! Again!”

“….. Slower!”

Situation heard and understood!

The street is incredibly noisy. I use Advanced Bionic’s ClearVoice to reduce sounds in noisy environments such as the street, train station, on the train. It’s fantastic, and I can pick out voices around me as unwanted background sounds drop away. I tested ClearVoice in a wine bar, and was able to lipread and listen to other cochlear implant users with ease. I heard one lady who came up to my dog and said “Hello darling”. I actually heard her say this behind my back! (I had to double check with her to make sure I had heard her right – I don’t trust my new hearing yet.) I noticed that the hearing aid users were unable to participate easily, they looked stressed and were often left out of the general conversation. This was how I was 3 months ago and I felt sad for those people. The cochlear implant users really had to make the extra effort to include the hearing aid users in the conversation. We totally understood, for we had all been there.

At work, with my office door shut, I have been able to detect my colleagues Calum talking in his soft Scottish brogue in the office next door and Karen coughing as she walks down the corridor, the photocopier room door squeaking next door, the photocopier spewing out paper, people’s footsteps as they walk past my office, people talking outside the building. I was able to pick out clear (albeit echoey) voices in the kitchen as we gathered together to celebrate Robert’s birthday – it is no longer a wall of horrendous mushy sound. I am still loving the sound of the clock ticking on my office wall.

Today I tried my hearing aid in my other ear for the first time in 2 months. An aeroplane flew overhead and I could clearly hear it approaching with my cochlear implant. To my shock, it didn’t even register with my hearing aid. My own voice sounds deeper and much quieter with my hearing aid, and I can only hear bits of it. I put the television on and set it at a volume that was nice and loud for my cochlear implant. However, I could not hear it at all with my hearing aid. The quality of the sound is different between the two hearing devices – higher pitched with the implant, deeper with the hearing aid. I am horrified at the difference and at how much sound is missing with the hearing aid – which I used to wear in my better ear.

How much I have missed the sounds of life – without even realising it. I have a lot of catching up to do!