I have just returned from Oticon’s Annual OBA conference, this time held in the NT. The weather was beautiful and the rugged beauty of the desert was a sight for sore eyes.
The most exciting announcement at the conference was the imminent release of a paradigm shift in Oticon’s hearing aid strategy. For years Oticon, in my eyes, have seemed to lack a bit when it came to the core technology in their hearing aids. Sure, they had fantastic marketing and some good concepts behind it, but when it came to raw processing power, their hearing aids just did not consistently deliver in my experience. Please note: This is simply my perception. Many clinicians, even Value Hearing clinicians, swear by Oticon hearing aids and have fitted many satisfied clients with their products. I am however a power junkie and I just love technology when applied correctly.
I am very happy to say that Oticon’s soon to be released Opn™ hearing aids, blows this perception of mine out of the water completely. We had the honour of having Dr. Thomas Behrens, one of the main people responsible for developing this amazing product, train us on the new platform.
According to him the Opn™ is 50X (yes Fifty!) faster than the previous range of hearing aids (the Alta2™). When I asked him how that is in Millions of Operations per Second, he replied 1.2 Billion Operations per second! This is twice as fast as the next fastest competitor currently on the market! Clearly Oticon has woken up to the capabilities that high tech chip sets can deliver and has moved from having one of the slowest chip sets for many years, to now having the most powerful one on the market with the new Velox™ chip.
Opn™ has a whole slew of new technologies, which is geared to better speech understanding and reduced listening effort even in noisy situations. It allows for a better feedback canceller and more powerful processing in up to 64 channels at once. This allows it to very rapidly adapt to changing situations. It is so fast, that it can even reduce background noise in between syllables in speech.
Speed is not everything however. The new Velox™ chipset used in the Opn™ also has a new A2D (Analogue to digital) converter than increases the dynamic input range from 92dB to 108dB, which is on-par with the best available on the market. This means much better sound quality especially in loud environments as well as less distortion. Oticon calls this ClearDynamics ™
The Op™n also introduces TwinLink™ Wireless. This allows two wireless systems to work at the same time. One system allows for broadband communication between the two hearing aids, so they can coordinate and work together to improve hearing in all situations. The other system allows the hearing aids to connect wirelessly to Bluetooth devices like your iPhone, so you can control your hearing aids from your phone while also streaming audio directly into your hearing aids without the need for any neck worn devices!
On top of that the Opn ™ is the worlds first internet connected hearing aid (via your phone) using IFTTT. This could allows amazing things to happen, like turning on your favourite song on your internet connected speakers when you turn your hearing aids on or getting an SMS reminder to change your batteries when they are getting low!
When released in June 2016, the Opn™ will only be a premium product and only be available in the receiver in the canal model. Over time we expect Oticon to roll out a full range of hearing aids using this powerful new Velox™ platform.