21
APR

Posted on Thursday, April 21, 2016

Oticon's Opn Helps the Brain Hear

brain

In today's distractible world, listening or paying attention can be a challenge for the average adult, but add in hearing loss and listening can require genuine strain. This strain, often called a cognitive overload, can create hearing loss fatigue. How well a hearing aid relieves this stress and fatigue is usually something measured subjectively. But Oticon recently employed an ingenious new way of measuring how well their latest hearing aid, Opn, relieves the stress of listening and the resulting fatigue.

In order to measure the benefit Opn hearing aids had on cognitive overload and hearing loss fatigue, Oticon decided on an approach called pupillometry. Pupillometry--a measurement of the, "intensity” of mental activity and of changes in mental states, particularly changes in the allocation of attention and the consolidation of perception"--has been around for fifty years. By using this method Oticon's preliminary testing shows that Opn users have 20% less cognitive overload or stress on the brain. That's a huge benefit to people with hearing loss. In addition, this ability to hear more easily shows there is a corresponding ability to listen better. In fact, Opn helps people remember 20% more. Being better at listening and remembering also means a person can understand more, 30% more according to Oticon's testing.

So how does Opn help support listening and improve brain function? There’s a lot of tech that supports what Oticon calls BrainHearing™. BrainHearing is Oticon's term for hearing aids that work with the brain to ensure the highest rate of understanding and the lowest amount of effort. They have a smaller chip size, but have 64 bands which helps supports the overriding goal of letting people with hearing loss work less hard in order to hear, understand, and retain more. OpenSound Navigator™ scans the environment for sounds (100x per second), analyzes them, and delivers them without amplifying every sound. It does this so that you have awareness of your environment while being able to hear speakers.

Opn also has something called TwinLink, an impressive feature that incorporates two different communication systems. First it allows binaural communication between the hearing aids, but also has a whole separate link for Bluetooth. Surprisingly, even with all these added features, it uses practically the same amount of battery as their earlier, less advanced, Alta2. In addition, Opn is the first hearing aid of its kind to be connected to the Internet. The benefits of that are pretty endless. It connects to the Internet via a web service IFTTT (If This Then That). Because of this connection, Opn hearing aid users have the ability to control over 300 devices that connect to home and services. For example, turn the lights off, the tv on, the coffeepot on FROM BED (that is so cool!), and be able to contact emergency services through your hearing aid.

If you'd like to learn more about Opn visit your hearing health provider! Don't have a hearing health provider? Click Here to be connected with a hearing health provider in your area.

Further Reading

Opn Open for Business

References

Hearing Review, Oticon's New Hearing Aid Takes Open Sound Approach Taken on April 19, 2016 http://www.hearingreview.com/2016/04/oticons-new-hearing-aid-takes-open-...
Oticon.com

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