MED-EL announces the release of ASM 2.0, which unlocks some new features for the SONNET and SONNET EAS processors.
- Microphone Directionality
- Wind Noise Reduction
- Automatic Volume Control
For more information, read the press release.
MED-EL announces the release of ASM 2.0, which unlocks some new features for the SONNET and SONNET EAS processors.
For more information, read the press release.
May is Better Hearing and Speech Month! The American Cochlear Implant Alliance has put together some resources for people considering a cochlear implant. Read more here.
The American Cochlear Implant Alliance is a not-for-profit membership organization created with the purpose of eliminating barriers to cochlear implantation by sponsoring research, driving heightened awareness and advocating for improved access to cochlear implants for patients of all ages across the US. ACI Alliance members are clinicians, scientists, educators, and others on cochlear implant teams as well as parent and consumer advocates.
MED-EL announces a global competition for kids age 6-11. Aspiring inventors and artists are invited to create a piece of artwork showcasing their invention to improve the quality of life of people living with hearing loss.
One U.S. winner will be awarded $1000 deposit into a college savings plan of their choice, and an entry into an international competition for a grand prize of a trip for the winner and an adult chaperone to MED-EL’s global headquarters in Innsbruck, Austria.
A team at the University of Bern in Switzerland has developed a robot which performs many of the tasks in cochlear implant surgery.
MED-EL Launches New Spotify Playlist featuring Holiday Tunes
“MED-EL Music for the Holidays” Designed for Cochlear Implant Recipient and Family Enjoyment
See the press release here!
My Kanso Story
by Roger Smith
Hearing loss is something I’ve dealt with for over 40 years. I was first diagnosed at age five and my hearing declined for the next 20 odd years. Choosing the right hearing aid and ultimately the right cochlear implant can be a challenge. Lucky for me, my brother, four years older, has the same history of hearing loss, and I usually had him to rely on for feedback about new technology or functionality. Now, I’m in a position to provide some insights into the new Kanso Sound Processor from Cochlear!
A little bit about myself, I work for Cochlear in Sydney and help develop and market new processors and accessories. I love my job because I get to work with and learn from our customers and help make sure the new products best meet our customer needs. I’m doing this for me, my brother, my son and all of you, and I truly love it.
In my role, I had the opportunity to be part of first clinical trial for Kanso, where I tested the device for more than six months in Sydney, Australia.
One thing we’ve learned over the years is that everyone is different and what is best for one person might not be best for another.
Kanso has been developed for people who are looking for a sound processor that is discreet, smart and simple.
Kanso is for people who might be a bit self-conscious about wearing a processor, who want something to ‘set and forget,’ or who just don’t want anything on their ear, all while still receiving great hearing performance.
So here’s what I can tell you from my experience about hearing performance with Kanso.
As a recipient and customer myself, I really focus on hearing performance. I want to be able to hear my best in every situation. Whether it’s social or at work, I don’t want to miss out on anything.
So when I was asked to trial Kanso, I must admit, I was a little sceptical. Would this new processor allow me to hear as well as with my Nucleus 6® Sound Processor? I put it to the test.
I went to the noisy café and the windy beach, I listened to music and watched TV, attended lectures and conferences, and in every situation I switched back and forth between Nucleus 6 and Kanso.
I can honestly say I could not tell the difference. I felt like with Kanso I was hearing just as well as with Nucleus 6 and maybe, more importantly, my family couldn’t tell the difference either. My wife, who’s able to tell better than me when it’s time to change my microphone covers, didn’t even notice I had a new processor for three weeks!
Kanso has the same performance technology as Nucleus 6 (SmartSound® iQ), which includes SCAN*. SCAN is an automatic environment classifier that constantly scans the environment you’re in and changes the processor settings to make sure you’re in the right setting at the right time. It’s all I ever use with Nucleus 6 or Kanso.
Kanso also offers all the same True Wireless™ connectivity options as the Nucleus 6, which is very important to me. I use my Phone Clip, Mini Microphone and TV Streamer on an almost daily basis. Being able to stream directly to my processor in certain situations is a huge advantage for people with Cochlear implants.
I feel sometimes like I’ve gone from being the person in the room with a disadvantage to being the only one in the room with a real advantage.
* SNR-WR, WNR and SCAN are approved for use with any recipient ages 6 years and older, who is able to: 1) complete objective speech perception testing in quiet and in noise in order to determine and document performance: and 2) report a preference for different program settings.
What is Kanso?
Kanso is an integrated sound processor for a cochlear implant that has the processing unit (read: brains of the computer), the battery, and the coil all in one unit.
It must be worn directly over the implant, so there are no cables to fiddle with and no earhook as it sits behind or above the ear.
To break it down further:
This is the part that does the hard work. It gathers the sound through the dual microphones and processes the input, filtering out background noise and sounds that you don’t want to hear based on your situation. Kanso comes with the same industry leading sound processing capabilities as the Nucleus® 6 processor with SmartSound™ iQ.
Kanso also has SCAN* technology, which means the processor can analyze the environment you’re in and put your processor in the right program, no matter what the situation.
Kanso has only one button to control functionality of the processor. This was done to simplify the user interface and make it even easier to use. You can control on/off, programs and streaming accessories with this one button. For those who want even more control, Kanso is compatible with the Cochlear Remote Control and Remote Assistant.
The microphones are where the sound comes into the processing unit. Kanso has two microphones. This is very important for background noise management because the processor can analyze the sound from the two microphones and determine which sounds came from behind. This ‘beamforming’ means you can hear better in noisy situations.
The coil is the part that communicates with the internal implant. It sends the ‘sound’ to the implant. Kanso has the coil built in so there is no coil cable to deal with.
You use Kanso with zinc-air disposable batteries. Rechargeable batteries would mean a bigger and heavier processor, which is not something customers wanted. With two zinc-air batteries, Kanso is designed to deliver the same battery life as Nucleus 6.
Kanso comes with retention accessories like the nearly invisible safety line for everyday use and the headband for more vigorous activities.
Kanso is fully compatible with the Cochlear True Wireless™ devices – Mini Microphones, Phone Clip and TV Streamer – so you get even greater performance in challenging situations and the convenience of no wires.
Real Life Experience
By now you’re probably thinking ‘great, so you can hear well but how well does it stay on? Is it really discreet? What about swimming and sports?’
Here’s how I answer these questions after six months of experience with Kanso:
What’s retention really like? Does it fall off?
Straight away, people ask me about the retention of Kanso. Does it fall off? No. I’ve never had a situation where the Kanso just fell off my head.
I use the same magnet strength (2) as with my behind-the-ear (BTE) sound processor and didn’t have any problems with Kanso falling off.
Did I accidentally knock it off? Yes. I had to break a few habits. With a BTE, if I had an itch, I could just flick the coil off and scratch and the BTE would keep everything on my ear. With Kanso, I had to remember to hold the processor while I scratched. This took me a week or two to change.
I also had to be a bit more careful changing a shirt or putting on a hat, but this was not a big deal to me. When wearing a hat, I did have to loosen the band a bit, but it didn’t seem to impact my hearing when I had the hat on.
Kanso comes with a clear safety line (like a fishing line) that you can attach to your hair with a clip or another, longer line that you can clip to your shirt. I used the short one in my hair, and I must say I was really hesitant to wear a hair clip, but it was pretty much invisible and surprisingly easy to use. Clip it in in the morning and pop it off at night – too easy!
How’s the battery life?
Battery life with two disposable zinc air batteries was the same for me (around 62 hours because I’m a low power user).
How simple is Kanso to use?
As simple as I found my Nucleus 6 to be, Kanso was just a little bit simpler. I use a hearing aid mould with my BTE for retention, and with Kanso, I didn’t have to spend a few seconds each day putting the earmould in and positioning the coil. And having only one button and SCAN* means Kanso is truly a ‘set and forget’ processor.
Can I use Kanso in water?
Kanso comes with a waterproof accessory that covers the processor and allows you to swim, snorkel, exercise and more.
I found the hearing performance when using the Aqua+ to be slightly less, but I could still understand, communicate and have fun with my kids and hear safety alarms or whistles.
If you’re doing anything besides just relaxing in the water, you’ll need to use something to keep the Kanso in the Aqua+ on your head. I used a neoprene swim cap (Nammu), but there are lots of options out there, and the Aqua+ has notches for goggle straps if you prefer that. A small price to be able to hear in the water!
How discreet is Kanso?
I’m not really too worried about people seeing my processor since I’ve been wearing something on my ears for 35 years. But if I was concerned about it, Kanso would be perfect for me. I have shorter style hair and Kanso is nearly invisible when I put it on.
Can I wear a hat or helmet?
As with any implant and processor combination, implant location on your head plays a role in how well (or not) hats and helmets fit. My implant is located just above and behind my ear – right on the ‘hat line.’ I find that I can still wear my hats and my bike helmet but with the hats, I need to loosen a little bit or there is a little too much pressure. This only bothers me in the wind as a loose hat comes off easier.
Is Kanso right for me?
This is the one question I can’t answer. Only you and your hearing health professional(s) can decide what is best for you
Personally, I would be very happy with either Kanso or Nucleus 6. I’m not worried about discretion, and I get great hearing performance and connectivity with both.
Kanso and Nucleus 6
Here is a comparison summary of Nucleus 6 and Kanso:
Some considerations when choosing between Nucleus 6 and Kanso:
Talk with your hearing health professional and be honest about what you hope to achieve with your processor. I hope hearing about my experience has proven helpful if you’re thinking about Kanso. Good luck with your hearing journey!
About the Author
Roger Smith, MSPT has been working in the field of healthcare for over 18 years. He is currently a Global Product Manager with Cochlear Ltd., spending the past 5 years in Sound Processors and Connectivity. As an employee and an active volunteer, Roger draws on his unique experience as a cochlear implant recipient to help improve the lives of those with hearing loss.
by Howard Samuels
Read this review to receive a discount code on Ditto!
Ditto is a small device that vibrates to provide you with alerts from your phone. It is focused on that one task, eschewing the feature creep that plagues so many consumer products.
From the manufacturer:
We created Ditto as a kind of anti-gadget – something to free people from worrying about their smartphones and to be more present in life. Ditto is tiny and elegant. No buttons, switches, lights displays, or cables. Less is more.
Ditto vibrates when you get an incoming phone call, a text, an email, or a notification from a large and growing portfolio of third-party apps. You don’t have to be inundated with constant vibrations, however. You can choose which apps will cause the Ditto to vibrate, and you can also select important people from your list of contacts, or allow alerts from anybody.
Straying ever so slightly from the ‘simple is better’ mantra, Ditto can also alert you when you are far away from your phone. This is helpful if you are prone to leaving your phone behind – Ditto will vibrate before you get too far away. The distance varies, but it is basically the range of the Bluetooth connection.
For cochlear implant HELP readers, perhaps the most important function is Ditto’s ability to vibrate at a preset time – it’s an alarm clock! Rather than large and expensive bed shakers or flashing lights, you can clip Ditto to your sleepwear, or wear it on the included wristband. My preference is to use the wristband because I can leave it on all day and all night. Ditto is waterproof, so you can wear it in the shower. The included thin and durable neoprene wristband looks great, but it does tend to stay wet for quite a while. And because it vibrates on your wrist, it won’t wake up your partner.
To set an alarm, go to the Alarm screen, choose one of the alarms to set, and set the time of day. You can assign a name to the alarm to be displayed on your phone when the alarm occurs. This can be helpful if you have set several different alarms and need to know which one is begging for your attention. The alarm can be set to vibrate its pattern one time, or it can repeat every two minutes for ten minutes, or until you turn it off.
Once an alarm has rung, it stays off unless you enable it again in the Ditto app. A recurrence feature would be helpful, so that you could set the alarm to wake you on the days you work each week without having to remember to set the alarm each night.
The Ditto web site has some short instructional videos to show you how to set up Ditto, attach it to the wristband, change the batteries, etc. The videos are available from within the Ditto app as well.
Ditto uses a single CR1632 button cell disposable battery, which lasts 3-6 months. When the battery gets low, you receive a notification to change the battery soon. The CR1632 battery generally isn’t sold in local pharmacies, but it is readily available from Amazon and other online sources.
Ditto is far more convenient and portable than traditional alarms targeted at the deaf and hard of hearing market. Because it is a high-volume consumer product, it costs much less than dedicated wakeup systems. And its main purpose of notifying you when you receive phone calls, texts, etc, is very useful. Ditto is a cost-effective alternative to a smart watch if the only goal is to receive notifications from your phone. Two additional features would make it a perfect fit – recurring alarms, and a wristband that dries more quickly.
Cochlear implant HELP reader can enjoy a 20% discount until October 31st, 2016, by using discount code cochlear20!
Two Ditto devices were provided by Simple Matters for the purpose of this review.
Cochlear’s newest processor, the single-unit Kanso, has received FDA approval in the United States. The features are largely the same as the Nucleus 6, but packaged in a convenient single-unit form factor.
Read the Kanso user guide here.
By Jessica Lewis
The journey to begin the process of cochlear implantation is an exciting prospect. When your audiologist tells you there may be hope to regain hearing and comprehension, the potential seem limitless. Amongst the excitement and new possibilities, the process of cochlear implantation can be overwhelming, and it’s not a decision to be made overnight.
My first step after making the decision to move forward with implantation was to learn about how cochlear implants work – not a deep technical perspective, just an overview such as can be found in the videos on the manufacturer’s web sites. In particular, I was interested in understanding the differences between cochlear implants and hearing aids.
When I began my cochlear implant journey last year, I had to choose which implant and company I would partner with for life. And they all promised better-than-ever features over the others. I was told by my audiologist all the general bells and whistles of the different implants, but ultimately she just handed me big packets of information on the three brands: MED-EL, Advanced Bionics, and Cochlear and said, “it’s up to you!”
The first step to any decision is to research every possible outcome. Brand packets in hand, I meticulously combed through each one hoping to have one company stand out over the other. But unfortunately, all three brands look like they offer similar implants, with very small distinctions between them. This was where I decided to hit the pavement and go straight to the sources. My audiologist was kind enough to get me in contact with representatives and implant recipients for Advanced Bionics, Cochlear, and MED-EL. I set up meetings over coffee, chatted via email, and took voluminous notes throughout the process. I truly felt this made my decision easier, as I was able to discuss and listen to first hand experiences: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I qualified for a cochlear implant in both ears, but I decided to only implant one for now as I can still use a hearing aid in the other ear. Many cochlear implant recipients are bimodal, meaning that they use one cochlear implant and one hearing aid.
While you can use any hearing aid with a cochlear implant, they really are different devices, and process sounds differently. Successful bimodal users learn to adapt to the different inputs to each ear.
Sister companies Advanced Bionics and Phonak recently introduced the Naída bimodal hearing solution, consisting of a cochlear implant with a Naída CI Q90 processor, and a Naída Link hearing aid. The sound processing technology is the same for both instruments. And the volume behavior (the way the loudness is adjusted automatically) is also the same. My hope is that this will make the transition to becoming a bimodal user as effortless as possible, and that it will provide me with the best bimodal hearing experience.
One nice feature available now is that when you change program or volume by pressing buttons on either instrument, both instruments respond, and you can hear the beeps in both ears. Also, you can stream sounds to both instruments using a ComPilot or a Roger Pen.
Some new features are coming soon that will make the Naída Link system even more integrated. I look forward to programs such as DuoPhone, where you hold the phone up to one ear, and the sound is streamed wirelessly to the other, so you hear it in both ears! And StereoZoom uses the mics on the two instruments together to make a super-tight focus directly in front of you – perfect for noisy restaurants!
Needless to say, I made the decision to go with Advanced Bionics because of all the features for bimodal users like me.
With both the Link and implant, I am able to hear sounds that I haven’t heard since my hearing loss began (including my cat’s incessant meowing which I’m not sure I missed…). I’m able to capture wonderfully clear sounds and speech with just the implant itself, but the addition of the Link adds such a richer sound to my surroundings, adding a more natural tone. I can carry on conversations in restaurants with ease, hear my boyfriend calling me from another room, and even talk on the phone with the T-mic or my Roger pen streaming into both ears. It’s astounding how clear I am able localize sounds through these intelligent and cohesive devices; two ears are definitely better than one!
Going forward, I can’t wait to see what additional features Advanced Bionics and Phonak will offer bimodal users.
About the Author
Jessica Lewis is a twenty-two-year-old recently hired pediatric oncology RN. Her hearing loss started in 2014 warranting the use of bilateral hearing aids until becoming a cochlear implant recipient in 2015. She was implanted June 30th, 2016 and activated on July 14th, 2016 and received her Naida Link a week later. She currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida where she hopes to not only change the lives of her pediatric patients but also advocate for the deaf/hard-of-hearing community she so closely relates with. She strives to pave the way for awareness and recognition of this community in introducing new technology and communication techniques through her experiences both medically and professionally.
MP3000, a new sound strategy from Cochlear, has received FDA approval. The strategy promises to extend battery life about 24% over the existing SPEAK/ACE strategies.
While SPEAK/ACE are based on 8-10 spectral components, MP3000 uses 4-6 components. No significant difference was found for the speech scores and for coding preference between the SPEAK/ACE and MP3000 strategies.
Thanks as always to Bob MacPherson for breaking the news of FDA approval of the MP3000 sound processing strategy!