The new hearing aid is the first to be part of the Internet of Things revolution. It can connect to smoke detectors and lighting systems. The device decreases the amount of effort that users have to exert to hear conversations, especially in noisy environments. Traditional hearing aids listen in a single direction at a time but the Oticon Opn can listen to several conversations at the same time while getting rid of background noise.
The Oticon Opn
- Scans the environment 100 times per second
- Connects to household items such as doorbells, baby monitors, or thermostats
- Single button and powered by a 312 battery
- Two-microphone estimate to preserve speech
- Two wireless communication systems
Multiple Speakers and the Velox Platform
The speed of Oticon Opn can quickly switch which speakers the users has access to so that multiple conversations can be heard at once. The Oticon Opn increases the user's ability to understand speech by 30% because there is less listening effort required. This also makes speech easier to understand, which leads to more mental capacity to process and remember what's actually being said.
The Velox platform, which can handle 1,200 million operations per second, is what allows the Oticon Opn to quickly process multiple speakers, allowing the user can focus on what they choose. Users can also locate where the sound is coming from and differentiate between separate sounds.
The Velox has 64 band frequency resolution which is the most on the market for a hearing aid. This large number of band frequencies improves the signal and resolution so the sound is better and clearer.
The Oticon ON App and IFTTT
The first hearing aid to connect to the Internet, the Oticon Opn can interact with many different devices. An application for iPhone, the Oticon ON App, lets users interact with a wide range of everyday items such as lights, the television, and kitchen devices. The Oticon ON App is used in conjunction with the If This Then That (IFTTT) service to help users connect and interact with different devices around the home.
The If This Then That service helps users to interact with things in their home like their doorbell. For the hearing impaired, IFTTT can be setup and customized based on the user’s needs, such as the lighting in the user’s home changing colors when receiving a message from a specific contact.
The Oticon Opn uses TwinLink technology as its communication system. This is the first time this type of technology is being used in a hearing aid.
TwinLink uses two wireless communication systems which give Oticon Opn great connectivity while still consuming low amounts of power and maintaining an overall small size for the hearing aid. One of the systems uses near-field magnetic communication (NFMI) for ear-to-ear communication and the other uses 2.4 GHz communication to other devices such as smartphones.
Schematic of the Velox chip connected to three ICs and the two radios that makeup the TwinLink
The Oticon Opn uses new technology to not only help users to hear better and improve understanding but it also improves how users interact with their surroundings. This new hearing aid connects to the Internet and is now a part of the Internet of Things. The Oticon Opn is a big step towards getting more things connected that could help a lot of hearing-impaired people and change how they interact with the world.
All images courtesy of Oticon.