StromThe American Academy of Audiology (AAA) Convention brought more than 7,000 hearing care professionals to San Diego for a wealth of information. There were few dull moments. In fact, this event has become one of the premiere events on the world stage of hearing health care and amplification technology, and is beginning to rival the annual UHA (Union Hoergeraete-Akustiker) Congress.

Spending the majority of my time on the convention floor visiting with attendees and exhibitors, I was gratified to see the number of international attendees who made their way to San Diego this year. AAA estimates that there were more than 1,500 people who hailed from outside the U.S. Also gratifying was the number of feature sessions and seminars offered at the convention, which ranged in topic from pediatrics to diagnostics to marketing, and many were so well attended that it made some relatively large halls feel like phone booths.

The new product introductions were no less exciting, and the new technologies are demonstrative of just how fast the hearing care field is moving. A few examples include Gennum’s release of its Paragon Digital hybrid, a configurable “universal” circuit that will make digital technology available to most of the hearing instrument companies that currently do not offer DSP. Knowles Electronics featured a number of new microphone and receiver designs, including thin- and directional microphone configurations, while The Engineering Consortium (TEC) was displaying their soon-to-be-released “Hearing System on a Chip” that is designed to provide a wide array of analog programmable features at more economical prices. New hearing instruments that were unveiled during the convention included the GN ReSound Canta, Intrason Digison, Oticon Ergo, Telex Sontiva, Widex Diva, and UHS Paradigm to name only a few. In addition to their new hearing instrument technologies, Siemens and Phonak showcased advanced laser-guided manufacturing procedures designed to eliminate the guesswork in fabricating shells (see Robert Oliveira’s article on page 20 regarding the importance of these types of systems). The battery companies have also been busy in the past year: Rayovac announced greater capacity for their products, Energizer and Duracell have each developed unique packaging solutions that are designed to facilitate the replacement of tiny hearing aid batteries, and Renata unveiled a new zinc air product line. Additionally, Symphonix provided information on the first FDA-approved middle-ear implant. While the above list is, by necessity, only a tiny sampling of the new technology showcased at the convention, it it is meant to demonstrate the sizable investment that has been made in R&D and product development by nearly every manufacturer.

New scientific findings, technological innovations and fitting equipment/solutions are being introduced at almost every level. Maybe it’s an over-used phrase, but there really has never been a more exciting time to be involved in the hearing health care field. The AAA convention—as well as those of recent ADA, IHS, AAO-HNS and ASHA conventions—underscores the need for all hearing care professionals to maintain their proficiencies by attending both state, regional, and national events; keeping up with current technology by continuously requesting information on new products, reading the trade journals for the latest news about products, fitting procedures, and marketing; and attending seminars and taking part in educational opportunities on the Internet.

Karl Strom