Oticon debuts Internet of Things hearing aid with multi-speaker listening for noisy environments

Oticon, vendor of audiology and hearing aid technology, launched this week Oticon Opn, its internet connected hearing aid that opens up a world of possibilities for IoT devices.

With Opn, Oticon introduces TwinLink, its initial dual communication system to combine binaural processing with streamer-free, internet connectivity, without compromising battery life or physical size.The first listening device compatible with the web-based service IFTTT (If This Then That), unlocking a world of potential for connected device communication.

With TwinLink, two dedicated communication systems operate in one hearing aid. One system lets the hearing aids talk to each other for accurate spatial awareness so that the user can identify where sounds are coming from. A second system communicates wirelessly with external devices such as iPhone, smartphones, TV and computers. The benefits of both systems allow for better hearing and hassle-free connectivity with low battery consumption.

Opn revolutionises hearing aid technology with the platform Velox, its sound processing system that allows users to more naturally follow multiple conversations in noisy environments without using traditional directionality. With the ultra-fast Velox platform, Oticon Opn delivers a constantly open, balanced soundscape; makes it possible to follow multiple speakers in complex listening environments; improves speech understanding in noisy environments; ability to make it easier on the brain by reducing listening effort, while providing seamless connectivity to iPhone, smartphones and other audio devices.

Velox scans the environment more than 100 times per second, handling more than 1,200 million operations per second, to follow rapidly changing conversations with multiple speakers in noisy environments to help locate, follow and switch focus to the sounds the user wants to hear.

With Opn, it is now possible to program hearing aids to talk directly with door bells, smoke detectors and baby alarms. Opn is the first hearing aid that connects to and interacts with the Internet.

With Opn, Oticon champions an “Internet of Things that matter”, where devices and services people depend on for their health and safety join more entertainment and convenience-oriented offerings. That’s why the company is launching project ON, a new technology that makes its latest-generation hearing aids Oticon Opn part of the Internet of Things through the online service If This Then That (ifttt.com).

With Oticon Opn, users remember 20 percent more, as the technology frees up mental resources so users can recall more in noisy environments. Oticon Opn makes it easier for the brain to handle multiple speakers in complex environments, which results in 30 percent better speech understanding and an open sound experience.

The OpenSound Navigator manages multiple speech and noise sources to allow focus on a conversation while staying attentive to people and things around, and enable switching focus to what is wanted to be heard. Traditional hearing technology isolates one speaker in the front and closes down all other sounds. OpenSound Navigator scans the environment 100 times per second to analyse and balance every sound individually, making them accessible and not disturbing.

Alongside this connectivity, Oticon has made progress with Opn’s core function as a listening device. Powered by the ultra-fast Velox platform, Opn overcomes a challenge that even the most advanced solutions of today can’t solve – the ability to handle noisy environments with multiple speakers.

Through the use of precise sound analysis performed over 100 times a second, important sound such as speech can be located from any direction, with background noise deemphasised for optimum clarity.

“Oticon has always been about audiology and technology working in harmony, and with Opn we’re introducing new and groundbreaking technology to address real issues that affect those with hearing loss,” said Søren Nielsen, president of Oticon A/S. “Opn opens up a whole new world of sound, allowing users to manage multiple speakers in difficult situations such as dinner conversations, and to benefit from technological advances that were previously out of reach. Opn can make a real difference to the lives of people, young and old, who suffer from hearing loss.”

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