Hello and welcome back to the Digital Hearing Care blog. It has been a while since my last post as everything goes a bit quiet over the summer with no product launches or conferences taking place. However we are now at the start of the next run of launches and last week I attended one for Swiss manufacturer Phonak in Manchester where they introduced an expansion of products in the ‘Belong’ Portfolio.

There were two main developments which I will cover below, for a full list of Phonak hearing aid technology click here.

So the first product we heard about was the Phonak Virto B which is a custom product, ie built to fit your individual ear and ranging in size from CIC (Completely In Canal) to the larger full shell option. Phonak Virto B at launch is available in four different technology levels B30, B50, B70 and B90.

As you would expect, with a new chip for the Belong platform you would anticipate some incremental improvements in performance to have been made. For those of you looking to try a Phonak aid for the first time the Autosense feature in this product simply adapts to every sound environment, automatically giving you the best sound quality in various listening situations – it just works – seamlessly.

One of the main points which Phonak wanted to get across with the launch of the Phonak Virto B range is that as a manufacturer they are the first to use Biometric Calibration technology to build their hearing aids.

Biometric Calibration in the build of a hearing aid means that Phonak scan the impression of the ear your hearing professional makes to take into account how sound is amplified differently due to the external size and shape of your individual ear. Just like our fingerprints our ears are all very differently shaped – even one persons ears can differ significantly between the right and left.

This difference in anatomy influences how the sound is captured, focused and then directed down the ear canal towards the ear drum. In a nutshell due to a more precise accounting of the anatomy of the individual ear, the result of this precise calibration leads to a better performing hearing instrument which is as individual to you as your fingerprint.

So to the second product which Phonak launched – the Audeo B-Direct, a Receiver in Canal model available in three technology levels – B90, B70 and B50. It is similar in shape and performance to the other Audeo Belong products but with the revolutionary bonus of directly connecting to any mobile phone with bluetooth connectivity. (That means pretty much any mobile phone nowadays!).

If you’re wondering what’s so exciting about this, well up until the Phonak Audeo B-Direct other brands of hearing aids could only connect directly to Apple devices (iOS devices like iPhone, iPad etc) without using an intermediary device, such as some kind of neckloop. Phonak Audeo B-Direct is a world first! The first hearing aid which can connect directly to any smart phone with no intermediary device, thats Android or Apple etc.

Phonak have had to compromise on some features though to be able to achieve such widespread connectivity, wireless direct streaming only works with phone calls, you can’t stream music or other audio from your mobile phone. If that aspect is not important to you this product is a real game changer!

When a phone call is received the hearing aid wearer can answer or reject the call from their hearing aid with no mobile phone in sight, as long as the phone is within 5 metres. The user’s voice is also picked up by the microphones on the hearing aids and relays that back to the phone so there is no need to use or hold the phone, that can stay in your jacket pocket at the other end of the room if you like! There is also an app available for your favourite smartphone which can be used to control basic settings such as volume control, programs and other fine tuning adjustments.

Also available as an accessory for the Phonak Audeo B-Direct is the all new Phonak TV Connector which will wirelessly stream audio direct into Phonak Audeo B-Direct hearing aids, again without an intermediary neckloop device and without affecting the sound for any other viewers. It’s not backward compatible so if you want that particular facility you need Audeo B-Direct hearing aids. If you would like a price or any further info on the Phonak TV connector here it is at our sister website HAB.online.

Thank you for reading, I hope my post was of interest and as always please comment or feel free to contact me on 01535 606350 (option 3) with any questions or to arrange a consultation. Also visit our Phonak hearing aid prices page for the information on our Phonak products. I will be posting again soon as we have a conference and several launches all happening before the year end. Take care for now! Regards,  Helen