Remote Programming for Nucleus Cochlear Implant Systems

telehealth-1

The United States FDA has approved a telehealth option to program cochlear implants remotely.  This means that recipients who live in remote areas, or are unable to travel to their cochlear implant clinic, may be able to conduct an audiologist visit from home.

Read the FDA announcement here.

This is just the FDA approval.  Availability depends on Cochlear – stay tuned!

Cochlear Nucleus 7 Introduction

Cochlear Nucleus 7 processor

Cochlear introduces the Nucleus 7 sound processor today!  Compatible with Nucleus CI24RE, CI500 and Profile Series Implants, key features include:

  • The N7 is the lightest sound processor on the market.
  • Can stream sound directly from compatible Apple devices. Bimodal users can stream sound directly from a compatible iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to the Nucleus 7 in one ear and a compatible ReSound hearing aid in the other ear.
  • Control, monitor and customize hearing on an iPhone or iPod touch through the Nucleus® Smart App available to download for free from the App Store®

The Nucleus 7 is expected to be available in the US in September 2017 for new candidates.  In October 2017 the processor will be available as an upgrade for current recipients in the US and Canada.  There is no information yet about availability in other regions, or on compatibility with Nucleus 22 series implants.

For more information, read the press release here.

Cochlear Nucleus 7 Sneak Preview

Get a sneak preview of the Cochlear Nucleus 7 processor!  Stay tuned here for breaking news on the N7 from Cochlear.

Information distilled by Bob MacPherson from an interview with Jan Janssen, Senior Vice President Research and Development, Cochlear Limited on MedicalResearch.com, dateline july 20, 2017:

* The Nucleus® 7 Sound Processor is the world’s first and only Made for iPhone cochlear implant sound processor, allowing users to stream sound from their iPhone®, iPad® and iPod touch® directly to their cochlear implant sound processor. It not only enhances the experience of talking on the phone, it also makes features like enjoying music or watching videos, as well as audio apps such as Maps or FaceTime, more easily accessible.

* The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor is also the smallest and lightest behind-the-ear sound processor on the market.

* With the availability of the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor, Cochlear is also offering the first Made for iPhone Smart Bimodal Solution (the combination of a cochlear implant in one ear and a hearing aid in the other), enabling both hearing devices to provide synchronized streaming to both ears from a compatible iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. The Nucleus 7 Bimodal Solution is delivered by using a Nucleus 7 Sound Processor, a compatible ReSoundTM hearing aid and a paired iPhone or iPod to control functionality for both hearing devices.

* The Nucleus 7 Smart App gives parents confidence that they can monitor their child’s sound processor and ensure they are hearing. The device also includes a variety of features that make it easier on parents and caregivers including:
The new Hearing Tracker feature records coil-offs time (each time the sound processor coil does not detect the implant coil, such as if it has fallen off a child’s head) and time in speech (which optimizes the sound processor for different types of noise environments).
The Nucleus Smart App Find My Processor feature helps locate a lost sound processor by using Location Services to determine the last place the sound processor was connected to the paired iPhone or iPod touch, whether it has been lost on the playground, in the house or in the car.
Parents are also able to see battery status, adjust volume and change programs using the Nucleus Smart App without needing to touch the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor.

Nucleus 7 Spy Photo

Nucleus 7 spy photo

Nucleus 7 (photo by Jannette Chalmers)

Compared with the Nucleus 6 (below) the Nucleus 7 appears to be slightly shorter vertically, while extending a bit more from front to back.  So far it appears that there will be only one version of the processor, the CP1000, without an accessory socket, similar to the CP920 version of the Nucleus 6 processor.

Nucleus 6

Nucleus 6 processor

Cochlear Receives FDA Approval for Nucleus 7 Processor

Image result for cochlear logo

Cochlear has received FDA approval for the Nucleus 7 (N7, or CP1000) BTE processor.  This doesn’t mean the processor is available today – it’s up to the company to determine when it will be available.

Preliminary features and differences between the N7 and N6 include:

  • Supports Hybrid (EAS) hearing
  • Made for iPhone compatibility
  • The telecoil is optimized for loops
  • Compatible with the Nucleus Smart App (iOS devices remote control app)
  • Remote control (volume, sensitivity, & program settings, telecoil, audio accessory)
  • Remote assistant replaced by iOS app – compatible Apple device required. Includes tracking function to help locate a lost processor.
  • One processor size option.  The N6 has two options, the larger of which allows for Direct Connect inputs.

The Nucleus 7 is not compatible with Nucleus 22 or Nucleus 24 implants.

Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available!

Cochlear to Obsolete Nucleus 5 Sound Processor

Cochlear has started the obsolescence process for the Nucleus® 5 processor.  This email was sent to current N5 users by Cochlear Americas.  Currently, this applies only to recipients in the United States.

“Our promise of “Hear now. And always” means we strive to bring you improved sound processor technologies and services designed to help you hear moments that matter most to you.

The Nucleus® 5 Sound Processor has been in the market for nearly eight years. This means that the sound processor is reaching its end of life; hence, we begin the obsolescence process. Our records indicate that you may currently use a Nucleus® 5 Sound Processor as either your primary or back-up sound processor. Please make note of the following milestones:

End of Sale – Effective immediately, the sound processor is no longer available for purchase. Aftermarket components and accessories such as coils and cables will remain available for purchase contingent upon supply levels until June 30, 2018.

Repair Services – Cochlear will continue to repair the sound processor through June 30, 2018. All repair warranties will end on June 30, 2018.

End of Life – The sound processor is no longer supported after June 30, 2018. This means that if your Nucleus® 5 Sound Processor stops working, Cochlear cannot repair it. Or if you lose a part or accessory, Cochlear cannot replace it.”

Cochlear Kanso Review

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.  

The Kanso processor

The Kanso processor

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:

Processing Unit

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.

Processor Button

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.

Microphones

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.

Coil

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.

Batteries

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.

Accessories

Kanso comes with retention accessories like the nearly invisible safety line for everyday use and the headband for more vigorous activities.

True Wireless

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!

Kanso with Safety Line and Clip

Kanso with Safety Line and Clip

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.

Aqua+ with Kanso inside

Aqua+ with Kanso inside

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.

Kanso with safety line attached

Kanso with safety line attached

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:

Both:

  • 2 microphones and SmartSound iQ and SCAN
  • True Wireless compatible
  • Aqua+ for complete waterproofing
  • Dust and splash proof
  • CR230 Remote Assistant and CR210 Remote control compatible

Nucleus 6:

  • Offers Hybrid™ Hearing with acoustic component attached
  • Can use disposable or rechargeable batteries
  • Telecoil optimised for phone use
  • Compatible with all Nucleus implant types

Kanso:

  • No acoustic component
  • Disposable batteries only
  • Nothing on the ear
  • Telecoil optimised for room loops

Some considerations when choosing between Nucleus 6 and Kanso:

  • Since Kanso is not worn on the ear, people with glasses might find Kanso works better, especially if you have thick temple pieces on your glasses.
  • While both processors are compatible with the Phone Clip, the Nucleus 6 processor telecoil is optimised for phone use. I used Kanso with the mics alone on the phone for quick conversations with family and friends but much preferred the Phone Clip for long calls or calls for work.
  • Consider battery type and how important that is to you.
  • If you wear hats a lot, consider taking one to your audiologist appointment to try on with Kanso because it slightly thicker than the Nucleus 6 coil. While I could still wear hats, I needed to adjust them slightly

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!

Kanso User Guide

About the Author

roger-head-shotRoger 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.

Cochlear Receives FDA Approval for MP3000 Sound Strategy

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!