HR caught up with Bruce Birkhold, domestic sales director of Apherma Corp, Sunnyvale, Calif, to find out about new trends within the industry.

 Bruce Birkhold
Domestic Sales Director
Apherma Corp

What is your company’s niche within the hearing industry?
At Apherma, we strive to remain on the cutting edge of digital hearing instrument technology and are never satisfied with simply meeting industry standards. Headquartered in the heart of the Silicon Valley, the pride of Apherma lays in our proprietary 8Mhz DSP chip—the fastest in the industry. Combined with our acclaimed AEC feedback elimination, Apherma is emerging as the American leader in quality, yet affordable, hearing instrument technology.

Tell us about your latest products.
Our Foresight Fit fitting tool predicts real-time improvements in speech intelligibility, yet requires no expensive equipment. The fitter can quickly determine what will benefit the patient’s speech understanding most, saving both sides time and frustration.

Customers also rave about our Adaptive Echo Cancellation (AEC), the patented feedback cancellation system featured in our 180 product line. AEC supplies mean headroom of 16dB, representing a 50% increase—compared to competitors’ systems—for achievable listening volume to the wearer before the occurrence of feedback.

How do you stay on top of industry trends?
Apherma continually dialogues with members of the professional community for their input on what’s hot in the market today. We then structure new products and features to address these needs. For example, Foresight Fit arose to combat dispenser struggles with follow-ups, streamlining the frequency and durations of fitting sessions for both the patient and dispenser. The success of this business technique has been amazing, and our friendly service support teams report customer satisfaction at an all-time high.

Gora Ganguli, senior vice president of audio and wireless at Gennum Corp, Ontario, Canada, spoke to HR about the company’s most popular products.

 Gora Ganguli
Senior Vice President
Gennum Corp.

Tell us about Gennum Corp.
Gennum is a high-tech company that designs and manufactures silicon chip solutions for a variety of markets. The company makes key components for the video and data communications markets and is an active member in the hearing instrument market. Gennum has a rich history of developing innovative products and has just celebrated its 30th birthday.

How do you utilize new technology in your product development?
Gennum’s product development starts with consumers. We define consumers’ needs and requirements, and leverage the company’s innovative technology to satisfy this demand. Our product development focuses on delivering the optimal balance of flexibility and processing capability with minimal power consumption. Superior technology in our product development differentiates our products, while our success depends on consumer satisfaction.

What’s your most popular product?
Our Digital Signal Processing (DSP) products (Paragon™, Duet™, and Foundation™) are our most popular products in the hearing instrument market today, and our new products are generating plenty of interest from the marketplace. In August 2004, Gennum will launch Hearphone™, a BTE-style hearing device with Bluetooth connectivity. This headset will enable consumers to combine hearing aid capability with a wireless headset for cellular communications. This product allows consumers to automatically switch from a hearing aid mode to a wireless headset for your cell phone—all at touch of a button. Consumers will no longer need to worry about RF interference from cellular phones, and they can safely engage in a hands-free conversation while at work or play. Hearphone includes noise reduction algorithms and feedback cancellation capabilities that improve speech intelligibly (incoming and outbound) in noisy environments.