Staff Standpoint | February 2023 Hearing Review

By Kathryn Sutherland, Director of Business Intelligence – Chief Editor

Kathryn Sutherland

I was invited to the CES 2023 conference and exposition in January by GN. I, along with a select group of hearing industry journalists, influencers, and advocates, attended exclusive panel discussions around innovative research projects they are currently working on while creating an open forum for attendees to share their ideas and perspectives. While at the conference, I had the opportunity to wear and review GN’s latest hearing aid technology, ReSound OMNIA.

I suffer from mild to moderate hearing loss with a higher degree of hearing loss on the left side. Most of my hearing difficulties come from speech in noise and trying to follow a conversation in a noisy environment. The OMNIA hearing aids were explicitly designed for noisy environments and deliver a 150% improvement in speech understanding compared to the existing hearing technology on the market. Therefore, I was eager and optimistic about the opportunity to try the OMNIA hearing aids at the CES convention center.

I met with Laurel Christensen, PhD, for the fitting process, which went quickly. Right away, I noticed a loud echoing of my voice. I understood the amplification of my voice was expected, but this sound was piercing. I discussed this with Laurel, and she made a few adjustments to the settings and determined I would be a better candidate for the smaller tips. Now that I had the correct fit, it was time to get comfortable wearing the hearing aids. From our discussion, I learned OMNIA hearing aids include “own voice perception,” which enhances the sound of the wearer’s voice to make it more natural. It only took a short while for me to become familiar with the sound of my voice, and this became much less noticeable over the course of the day.

When I looked in the mirror on the way to the convention center, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the aids were inconspicuous and discreet and very comfortable. I knew I would have no problem wearing them throughout the day. Finally, I was prepared to experience the show floor with my OMNIA hearing aids.

I wore the hearing aids all day as I walked the conference center and talked with exhibitors and noticed how easily I could hear the person’s voice I was speaking with despite all the noise. The hearing aids provided the proper amplification for me to follow a conversation comfortably. I even held an hour-long meeting with an industry supplier at a small table in the middle of the main exhibit hall, and I easily engaged in the three-way conversation without any challenges. OMNIA is designed with 360 sound and fast processing that directs the sound and then beam-forms it precisely to clarify speech further.

Wearing the OMNIA hearing aids at the CES convention center was an enlightening experience. They performed exactly as described. These hearing aids would be a good option for people who work in a noisy environment and those who suffer from speech-in-noise hearing difficulties. As with any prescription hearing aid, meeting with an audiologist, or hearing aid dispenser in person or remotely is required for the proper fitting.

Another area of interest for me was learning more about Bluetooth LE Audio and Auracast. I had the pleasure of meeting with Jason Ellis and Laura Moore with Packetcraft, a maker of Bluetooth-embedded stacks and software solutions. We discussed how the new Bluetooth LE Audio technology is currently integrating into hearing healthcare, and the future possibilities. They shared that they are already working with a few hearing aid manufacturers on implementation projects and are eager to explore more partnerships to gain momentum in the hearing aid industry.

They invited me to meet with the Nordic Semiconductor team to explain the chip technology and experience the new Bluetooth LE Audio, with enhanced isochronous sound in an audio headset. The headset was connected to the new Google Pixel cellular phone, which was the only cellular phone enabled with Bluetooth LE Audio at the time of the CES exposition. I also learned more about the Auracast technology, which has not yet been released to the market. They explained the industry anticipation for Auracast is building, and there is an accumulation of large installation projects on hold, waiting for the release of Auracast for implementation into public venues.