Oticon More Hearing Aid Review – Giving a new perspective on natural sound
This month was the global launch of Oticon’s new premium hearing aid range called: More. Oticon More uses a new chip called Polaris and is marketed as the world’s first hearing aid that uses a deep neural network (a type of artificial intelligence) to deliver a more personalised and natural experience for wearers. Oticon has a well-earned reputation for producing high quality hearing aids that deliver a natural sounding wearing experience. Oticon continues this pursuit for natural sound with the new Oticon More.
So, what is a deep neural network?
Before we answer that question, lets have a look at how most hearing aids currently operate. People with hearing loss have more difficulty hearing in challenging situations (e.g. background noise) than people with normal hearing. Therefore, to adequately compensate for hearing loss, hearing aids need to not only amplify sound, but to enhance target speech relative to background sounds i.e. to improve contrast or what audiologists call signal-to-noise ratio. This is no easy task, as many situations are acoustically complex and an individual’s listening environment is constantly changing.
Current hearing aid technology manages this by adapting their features based on algorithms. An algorithm is a set of pre-defined instructions, like a recipe, designed to deliver a specifically programmed outcome. If the hearing aids detect and classify a specific situation (or set of circumstances), an algorithm will be activated. For example, a simple algorithm might be that if background noise volume is detected and it reaches a certain level, the hearing aids’ directional microphone is switched on to enhance the target speech. However, for those of you who are amateur cooks, know that by having the recipe certainly does not guarantee success! For example, you may select the incorrect ingredient(s) or the incorrect amount of ingredient(s). This also applies to hearing aids. Using the same example above, the hearing aids may have incorrectly classified the acoustic situation (ingredients) by assuming the increased volume was background noise, when it in fact was simply the target speaker increasing the volume of their voice.
We all know that successful cooking requires more than having the recipe and the correct ingredients. MasterChefs hon their skills over many years through trial and error to perfect their dishes. This is where artificial intelligence and deep neural networks come in. A deep neural network does not only work according to algorithms but can also predict a solution for a task and make conclusions using its previous experience. So, like a MasterChef, the hearing aids learn over time and with experience get better!
Oticon More is designed to replicate normal natural hearing by giving wearers access to the full sound scene with clear contrast and balance. To achieve this Oticon trained the More hearing aid’s deep neural network with 12 million real-life sound scenes.
During operation, the hearing aids scan the environment 500 times per second and then precisely organise the sounds around the user utilising the Deep Neural Network’s vast training. Oticon believes this process delivers a more natural sound experience that creates contrast and balance between the sounds in the environment.
It should be noted that the Deep Neural Network used in Oticon More is not a live system i.e. it does not use the real-life experience of the individual wearer to further enhance the hearing aids’ performance. Currently there are two manufacturers on the market that do offer such a “living” artificial intelligence system: Signia (Signia Assistant) and Widex (SoundSense Learn). If wearers are not happy with their hearing aid setting, they can use Signia Assistant or SoundSense Learn to recommend a setting based on the up-to-date collective experiences of many users around the world who were in similar situations. Using an App that connects in real time to a portal, recommended settings with proven success are then programmed into the wearers hearing aids and they are given the opportunity to test then rate their success with these new settings, further enhancing the accuracy of the system.
Oticon More miniRITE R
At launch Oticon More will be initially available in one model only: miniRITE R, across three levels of technology (Premium More 1 & More 2 and High-end More 3). The miniRITE R is a stylish and discreet rechargeable receiver-in-canal device. It features a double-push button to control the volume and adjust programmes.
- Expanded Bluetooth Connectivity – Wearers can enjoy a a range of connectivity possibilities, like streaming music, talking on the phone, and using the Oticon ON App to control the hearing aids. Wearers can directly stream audio from Apple devices (supporting the Made for iPhone standard) and selected Android devices (supporting the ASHA standard).
- Lithium-ion Rechargeability – Wearers can fully charge their hearing aids in just 3 hours. Wearers can expect a full day’s use from their hearing aids.
- Water and dust resistant – the hearing aids are IP68-certified to be dust tight and protected against ingress of water, which means they are designed to be worn in all daily life situations
Oticon has a well-earned reputation of producing high quality hearing aids that deliver a natural sounding wearing experience. In March 2019 Oticon launched an upgrade to its successful “Opn” hearing aid range (released back in 2016) called “Opn S”. Oticon continues this pursuit for natural sound with the new Oticon More. We continue to be impressed with Oticon Opn S’s sound quality. We expect this to be enhanced further with Oticon More. However, for clients where speech clarity is the main priority, we have found that competitive systems (e.g. Phonak Paradise and Signia Xperience) using narrow directionality provides better overall speech clarity.
Sounds of Life is currently looking for volunteers to trial the new Oticon More. It is expected that Oticon More will be released in Australia in January 2021.
About Sounds of Life
Sounds of Life audiology is a member of Audiology Australia and Independent Audiologist Australia. We adhere strictly to Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics. We pride ourselves on:
- Being fully independent – We are not owned or operated by a hearing aid manufacturer or large chain.
- Ethical Practices – We are focused on providing the highest level of care and do not pay commissions.
We also follow the Australian Government Hearing Services’ protocol for hearing services.
If you feel hearing loss is impacting your life contact Sounds of Life.
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