Advancements occur at a quick pace in the realm of hearing aids. Manufacturers are constantly developing new solutions to patients’ hearing needs, so that each successive model provides an even more natural sound quality. Phonak, one of the world’s largest hearing aid manufacturers, recently released its newest platform: Paradise. Paradise offers multiple innovations aimed at improving patient satisfaction.
When surveyed, hearing aid users stated that their biggest concern was improving their hearing. Phonak consistently surveys users to determine how to best meet this goal. Respondents stated that while they could hear more in their environment, soft sounds such as quiet talkers still presented occasional challenges. To address this concern, Phonak has introduced a feature called Speech Enhancer, which provides additional volume to quiet speech. It is only activated in calm environments, as the chaos of a noisy room does not need to be enhanced further. Conversely, they have also introduced Soft Noise Reduction, which reduces quiet environmental noises such as clocks or fans. Combined, these features work to improve speech detection while minimizing bothersome environmental sounds. Both features are automatic, activating themselves based on algorithms.
Another common survey theme was being able to hear those to the side or rear of the hearing aid user when walking. Traditionally, when hearing aids detected loud environments, they would narrow their focus to only amplify what was directly in front of the patient. Thus, any sounds beside or behind the user are ignored. This is useful if the user is stable, but perhaps less so when walking. Phonak’s solution is Motion Sensor Hearing. Motion Sensor Hearing detects when the user is actively walking and widens the focus of the hearing aids so that all companions can be heard, regardless of their positioning relative to the user. The user is able to feel more open and connected to the world.
Ease of Use
Bluetooth connectivity has long been a feature of hearing aids, with direct connectivity being a more recent development. Direct Bluetooth connectivity allows hearing aid users to stream phone calls, music, videos and other audio to their aids, hands-free. Phonak Paradise retains this feature, while improving ease of its use. In prior models, the phone had to be answered by pressing a button on the hearing aid. Such a task can be difficult for those with arthritis, neuropathy or even large fingers. Paradise aids allow a user to now answer the call by double-tapping on either ear. Double-tapping can also activate phone assistants (Siri, Google) or pause and resume streaming. For instance, if a user is listening to an audiobook and someone begins talking to that person, he or she can double-tap to pause the book, converse, then double-tap to resume their book. All of these features can still be controlled by the hearing aid button if desired.
Another improvement involves the connectivity itself. In the prior model, the aids could pair to fewer devices and could only connect to one device at a time. (Pairing refers to the aids and another device recognizing that each other exist, while connecting allows a device to actively stream to the hearing aids.) If a user wanted to switch from using a phone to using a tablet, he or she had to disconnect from the phone and connect to the tablet. This could, of course, be inconvenient. Paradise hearing aids allow a user to pair to more devices (eight) and be actively connected to two at a time. Thus, switching between devices is now seamless. If a user has more than two devices paired, the aids will automatically connect to the two most recently used, rather than the user having to choose each time.
When launching its prior model, Phonak introduced the myPhonak app for phones and tablets. myPhonak allows the phone or tablet to act as a remote control for the aids, while also allowing for distance programming. With the Paradise aids also come improvements to the myPhonak. Users can now control whether rechargeable aids turn on automatically, choose what the double-tap controls and monitor daily use of the aids. Users also can work with their provider to set goals for acclimating to the hearing aids. These goals are also monitored through myPhonak.
With Paradise, Phonak continues its mission of offering superior sound quality and maximum convenience. Previous Phonak users have reported a substantial improvement in their hearing. A hearing care professional will be the best resource for determining which devices will best suit your needs. QCBN
By Jeff Lane, Au. D.
Trinity Hearing Center is located at 1330 N. Rim Dr., Suite B in Flagstaff. For more information, visit the website at TrinityHearing.net. Jeff Lane is a doctor of audiology with a passion for improving the lives of others. Dr. Lane may be reached at 928-522-0500 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.