Tympan Is Developing Open Source Hearing Aid Hardware Based on a Teensy 3.6

The benefits of open source software and hardware far exceed simple cost savings for consumers. Sure, from a consumer perspective, “open source” software usually means “free” software. But, it also often provides a quality improvement through community development. Corporations can also benefit from that in order to reduce their research costs—in exchange for sharing their own research. Now, Tympan is taking advantage of that ethos to bring better hearing aid technology to market.

If you’re not hard of hearing and haven’t used hearing aids, then you may not even be aware that there are advancements to be made. At the most basic level, a hearing aid has three major components: a microphone, an amplifier, and a speaker. The hearing aid picks up sound through the microphone, amplifies it, and then pipes it out through the speaker in the user’s ear—hopefully loudly enough to be heard.

The problem is that simply making something louder doesn’t necessarily make it easier to hear. Especially as it relates to aging, hearing loss often affects some frequencies more than others. So, someone may be able to hear low frequencies but not high ones, and just cranking up the volume is only going to drown out the high frequencies with the low frequencies that they can already hear.

The answer to that problem is real-time digital signal processing, which is what Tympan is focusing on. Their design has an onboard Teensy 3.6 chip, and can alter audio frequencies during amplification. And, because community development is encouraged, users can tinker with that processing at will. For example, you could modify high frequencies that you have a difficult time hearing to be lower, making them easier to hear without just blasting the volume.

Tympan will be launching this technology—which is a board with microphone and headphone jacks—through their own website on March 1st. The goal is to promote research and improve the quality of life for people living with hearing trouble. At launch, it will cost $299. Of course, because it’s open source, you can go ahead and make your own device by heading over to the Tympan GitHub page.

Tympan Is Developing Open Source Hearing Aid Hardware Based on a Teensy 3.6 was originally published in Hackster Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

This content was originally published here.


Last night I had a dream and I heard the Lord say “Many have lost their song, but in 2019 it shall not only be restored but resound louder than before.”

I then began to see CD’s all around and the sense was the sound was LOUD. 

As I have sat with the Lord and pondered this dream He spoke to me that this word is not only for worship leaders and those who sing but also for those in the body of Christ who feel they have lost their voice. Those who feel like circumstances, weariness, opposition, doubt, fear and many other things have stolen their song.

The Lord showed me a MAJOR restoration of the SONG of the Lord in His people being restored. The songs that the Lord has placed within His people are going to come forth again and louder than before. The beautiful melodies of His heart, the messages of His heart that He has imparted into each of His people that reveal His nature, His truth and His heart are going to resound LOUD. 

The “songs” that God has placed within many will come out in music, it will come out in writing, it will come out in so many different ways, but it is the SOUND of the Lord’s heart and His message in the hearts of His believers that will NO LONGER be muffled, lost or stolen. It’s being RESTORED to RESOUND LOUD!


I was struck in the dream by the CD’s and I knew in the dream that this represented many “recordings” for those who have been called and anointed to sing and to worship the Lord.

But in the dream there was another strong sense that I felt for those who don’t ‘sing’ as such but those who have lost their voice and their sound. 

I kept hearing the words over and over “It’s time to PUBLISH” and I felt the Lord saying that not only will the songs, sounds, and messages of His heart be restored within His people but NOW is the time to see these songs, sounds and messages PUBLISHED. The Lord is going to orchestrate many divine avenues to have the sounds, songs and messages of the Lord published and released into the world.

The Lord kept speaking:

“The enemy has worked hard to muffle the sound of many and to steal their voice, to steal their song, to steal the messages of My heart within them, but NOW My hand shall bring about an acceleration of publication and it is TIME for a NEW SOUND. It’s time for the NEW SOUNDS of My heart to arise. It’s time for the NEW SOUNDS of the NEW ERA to be released. Watch how I will move through My people in new and fresh ways. Watch how I will ignite new and fresh giftings within My people that they never knew they had. Watch as My sound comes out LOUD!!!!”

“The songs, sounds and messages of My heart that will be restored and released in 2019 will FLOW with the new wine of My heart. They will drip in My anointing more than ever before. They will carry the oil of My presence and weightiness of My Glory, carrying a sound of heaven that has not been heard before. The sound of intimacy with Me is going to RESOUND LOUDER than ever before.”

“It’s time for the NEW SOUNDS of the NEW ERA and NOW the songs of My heart, the messages of My heart are being restored in My people and they will RESOUND across the earth testifying to My goodness and My love. The new sounds of the new era to usher in a great harvest has arrived.”

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This content was originally published here.

Federal judge rules that Starkey owner Bill Austin perjured himself

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Starkey Laboratories owner Bill Austin perjured himself at least once in his testimony during a $20 million embezzlement case against two of his former executives and two business associates.

U.S. District Court Judge John Tunheim ruled the government knew that Austin perjured himself, identifying one instance in which either Austin or an FBI agent gave false statements and another in which he said the government should have known Austin was not telling the truth.

“The court, therefore, concludes that the government must identify all instances — including, but not limited to, the two identified by the court — in which it knows that a government witness perjured himself or herself,” said Tunheim, chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, in a ruling given to attorneys. “Because only the government knows which statements are false, the government should move to strike such statements from the record in front of the jury.”

Prosecutors told Tunheim they respectfully disagreed with his decision and would submit additional case law and arguments to the court asking that he reconsider and allow the jury to determine credibility of the statements.

The false statement allegations were part of a surprise motion filed Monday asking Tunheim to acquit Jerry Ruzicka, former president of Eden Prairie-based Starkey, the largest U.S. hearing aid manufacturer. Ruzicka’s attorney, John Conard, said in the motion that the government had not adequately proved its case.

By late Monday evening, the three other defendants had joined Conard’s motion.

Ruzicka, Starkey’s former human resources chief Larry Miller and business associates W. Jeff Taylor and Larry T. Hagen are accused of funneling money from Starkey through a series of fraudulent stock transfers, bonuses, commissions and other means from 2006 to 2015. The four men have pleaded not guilty.

Tunheim on Tuesday refused to dismiss the case, saying the prosecution had provided enough evidence for the case to move forward.

The prosecution rested its case Monday after a month of witness testimonies and thousands of pages of documents that were entered into evidence. In a surprise move, Ruzicka and Miller abruptly rested their cases Monday as well, without calling any witnesses.

The case continued Tuesday, with Taylor taking the stand in his own defense.

The testimony in question, regarding the perjury allegations against Austin, had to do with whether he truthfully testified that he had not shredded payroll documents and if he had correctly stated the circumstances and timeline regarding Ruzicka’s employment contract.

In the first instance, Austin and Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent Brian Kinney gave contradictory statements under oath. Kinney said that during a formal interview with Austin, the Starkey owner said he shredded descending payroll reports — which list employees and their pay, ranked from the highest to lowest salaries — after reviewing them. Kinney had used this information for a search warrant to further investigate the case.

Under questioning from the prosecution, Austin said he “never shredded anything” and did not recall telling Kinney that. Austin also said he always put the documents in the recycling bin, even those containing confidential information.

Tunheim said the prosecution should know that either Kinney or Austin gave a false statement. He added that “whether Austin destroys documents is a contentious factual issue that was explored throughout this case. This statement is directly relevant to that issue.”

As far as Ruzicka’s contract, Austin testified that Ruzicka discussed his employment contract with Austin, then wrote it up and brought it back for a signature on one given day. Austin said Ruzicka did the same with an addendum wherein Austin agreed to pay Ruzicka 10 percent of Starkey’s worth in the event that Austin died or sold the company.

However, during subsequent investigations, FBI special agent Matt Snell said he recovered correspondence between Starkey’s corporate counsel and outside counsel that show both that Ruzicka did not draft his own employment contract and that the transaction did not take place in one day’s time.

“This is not a mere failure to recall who drafted the amendment to the contract and when,” Tunheim said. “Austin testified at length and in great detail about the creation of this amended contract. Documentary evidence — as testified to by Snell — establishes that it is impossible for Austin’s story to be true.”

Starkey spokesman Jon Austin said: “We respectfully disagree with the court’s order. … Mr. Austin was on the witness stand for three days and was asked about many, many events that occurred over 50 years. He is confident that he testified truthfully at all times and to the best of his ability and we are confident that the jury will determine what the truth is.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Taylor took the stand and insisted all of his consulting agreements, commissions and other payments from Starkey were legitimate.

Taylor, who was the president of the parts supplier Sonion U.S. until his firing in November 2015, is accused of working with Ruzicka and Hagen to create sham companies that issued more than $7.7 million worth of fraudulent commissions, rebates and discount pricing.

After presenting decades of employment contracts and commission agreements, Taylor told the court that he received commissions from Starkey plus employment perks from Sonion because of the millions in new business he was able to bring to both companies. Sonion began making hearing aid transducers for Starkey in 2006, which helped Starkey lower its prices and created an alternative to a competitor that had previously monopolized the market, he said.

Closing arguments are expected later this week.

Star Tribune file
Starkey Laboratories owner Bill Austin A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Austin perjured himself at least once in his testimony in a $20 million embezzlement case against two of his former executives and two business associates.

This content was originally published here.

The Who’s Keith Moon Was Godfather To Ringo Starr’s Son And Current The Who Drummer Zak Starkey

Zak Starkey is the son of The Beatles Ringo Starr and his Godfather was The Who’s Keith Moon.  In a bit of irony, he in essence replaced his Godfather, Moon as drummer for The Who and has been an unofficial member of the band since 1996.   It was Moon and not his father that taught him how…

This content was originally published here.

Peru and the hearing test factory | Phonak Audiology Blog – Phonak Pro – life is on

The #HearPeru mission

In September 2018, I was fortunate to be allowed to be part of a small team of Sonova volunteers, who travelled to Lima Peru. Our mission was to screen at least 4000 children for hearing loss within five days.

Although Peru has adopted the universal neonatal screening policy, with only 10 audiologists for 32 million habitants, the majority of newborns and infants remain untested for hearing loss. For this reason, the Hear the World Foundation and World Wide Hearing Foundation International jointly launched a program in 2016 to test underserved children in Peru for hearing loss. Their goal of screening over 30,000 children was achieved in November 2018.

The screening was for the most part carried out by local audiologists/speech therapy students. However, in order to reach the ambitious goal of 30,000 children, four missions were organized where Sonova volunteers flew in from around the world and carried out mass hearing screenings within a week. In addition to helping with hearing screenings, the role of the volunteers was also to share knowledge and skill development with local staff. I took part in the last of these four missions and by then, the system was like a well-oiled machine!

What did our working week look like?

Day 1: Morning: Hearing aid fittings of children who had been diagnosed with hearing loss during the last volunteer mission.

Afternoon: Training on screening equipment, screening process and a crash course in Spanish!

Day 2-5: Travel to a school on the outskirts of Lima. Set up screening stations. Test a lot of ears! De-brief. Travel back to accommodation and re-charge equipment for the next day.

How did the screening set-up work?

At each school, we set up three stations; an otoscopy station, a screening station and a re-test station.

For otoscopy, the children were lined up and two audiologists would look in their ears one-by-one. Any foreign bodies, wax occlusion or infections were noted. Children would then move onto the screening station.

Total number of ears looked into in 5 days: 8974

Interesting otoscopy findings: 560 wax occlusions, 21 ear infections, 2 pieces of foam from a Piñata, 1 live insect (a cochineal – identified by one of our volunteers who by coincidence is a doctor of Biology!)

The screening station consisted of around 6 volunteers with a touchscreen audiometer. Children who had been at the otoscopy station would take a seat in front of one of the volunteers and the volunteer could practice their best Spanish! “Si escucha, levanta la mano” (If you hear something, raise your hand). At the beginning, many of us non-Spanish speaking volunteers were struggling to remember this phrase, but as you can imagine, by the end of the mission, it was well and truly engraved on our brain! Children who passed the screen were sent back to class (“Pasa!”). Children who didn’t pass, were directed to the re-test station.

At the re-test station, situated in a quieter environment with an experienced pediatric audiologist, a more accurate hearing test was performed. Many children passed and went back to class. Those who appeared to have hearing loss had their name taken, in order to be offered an appointment with a Peruvian audiologist in a hearing clinic, for further assessment and if necessary, hearing aid fitting.

Total number of referrals to the clinic in 5 days: 58 out of the 4487 people screened (43 children, 15 adult staff members of the school)

What happened to the children who were referred to the hearing clinic?

Several of the 58 referrals have already been re-tested in the Peruvian hearing aid clinic and three of them have already received hearing aids.

What happened to the volunteers?

We were exhausted after a long week but left on a high, feeling a massive sense of achievement and very grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in this truly worthwhile experience. Of course we went back to our normal working lives in Sonova, but as one volunteer (Tania) so nicely put it, we left a little bit of our hearts in Peru.

We invite you to watch this short video featuring the #HearPeru mission.

This content was originally published here.

Eargo raises $52M for virtually invisible, rechargeable hearing aids – TechCrunch

Eargo wants to become the ultimate consumer hearing brand.

The company’s small and virtually invisible direct-to-consumer hearing aids, which come in an AirPods-style chargeable case, are designed to help destigmatize hearing loss. One month after revealing its newest product — the Eargo Neo ($2,550), which can be customized remotely via the case’s Bluetooth connectivity — the startup has closed a $52 million Series D, bringing its total raised to date to $135 million.

The latest round of capital comes from new investor Future Fund (Australia’s sovereign wealth fund) and existing investors NEA, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, Nan Fung Life Sciences and Maveron. 

Headquartered in San Jose, Eargo, which counts 20,000 users, will use the cash to continuing crafting and innovating new products targeting baby boomers. The newly-launched Eargo Neo is the business’s third line of high-tech hearing aids. The first, Eargo Plus ($1,450), was released in 2017 and the Eargo Max ($2,510) was launched the following year.

“We can see that the product is really making a difference for users,” Eargo chief executive officer Christian Gormsen told TechCrunch. “We have the opportunity to really create a leading brand in the consumer hearing health space.”

Roughly 48 million Americans, or 20 percent of the population, suffer from hearing loss but, aside from some Medicare Advantage programs, insurance companies provide no reimbursement for hearing aids. Despite high price tags — this is expensive tech — Eargo’s priority is still to make its hearing aids as accessible as possible and to send a message that there’s nothing wrong with admitting to hearing loss.

“Getting a hearing aid feels like admitting a defeat like there’s something wrong with you but that’s not true, hearing loss is natural and happens,” Gormsen said. “The number one challenge for the entire industry is awareness. There is so little knowledge about hearing loss out there; it’s such a stigmatized category and how do you change that? The current channel doesn’t do anything to address it, the only way you can address it is through education and communication.”

“I think we’ve come far, but we are looking at 48 million Americans and we are still barely scratching the surface.”

This content was originally published here.

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Hearing Aids – Beltone Blog

Despite the fact that many people use hearing aids, many of us may not fully understand what they actually do or how they work. We’ve uncovered seven facts you should know about these useful devices.

1. Hearing aids are not just for the elderly
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 466 million people across the world suffer from disabling hearing loss – 34 million of these are children. It’s estimated that by 2050 more than 900 million people will be affected by disabling hearing loss. The WHO says that 1.1 billion young people – between the age of 12 and 35 – are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise in recreational settings.

2. Hearing aids can adjust automatically to surrounding noise
Our ears do an amazing job of picking up important sounds – such as your dinner date’s conversation in a busy restaurant or a bored colleague muttering under his breath at a meeting. Hearing aids can do exactly the same, and technological advancements have made them versatile in all sound environments.

3. Hearing aids will not cure your hearing loss
A hearing aid will not make your hearing return to the way it once was and will not cure hearing loss. It can drastically improve your life after hearing difficulties by allowing you to once again hear conversations, the TV or the radio. A hearing aid will definitely improve your quality of life.

4. You should not buy hearing aids online
Online shopping is incredibly convenient.  You can get whatever you need at the click of a button.  However, hearing aids require a much more personal approach.  You will need to ensure the hearing aid fits comfortably and the hearing aid also needs to be adjusted to your hearing preference.  This cannot be done over a purchase online.  It’s best to do everything in person to get the perfect fit and sound quality you require.

5. You may need a hearing aid even if you have mild hearing loss
When it comes to hearing, people have different requirements. While some people with mild hearing loss don’t require a hearing aid, others find that it makes a huge difference to them. If you are concerned or confused, don’t hesitate to make an appointment at your local Beltone to get a FREE hearing exam.

6. You may need to wear two hearing aids even if you only experience hearing loss in one ear
You use both ears to hear, which means wearing two hearing aids may improve your hearing even more. According to the American Speech, Language, Hearing Association, wearing two hearings aids “lets you figure out where sounds come from. This is called localisation. It helps in noisy places and makes sounds more natural. Wearing two aids may make it easier to understand what others say.”

7. Hearing aids can be used in any lifestyle
As technology continues to improve, it means that no matter what type of lifestyle you currently enjoy, you’ll be able to find a suitable hearing aid. Nowadays you can find hearing aids that are water resistant or waterproof. Just because you need to wear a hearing aid doesn’t mean you have to change who you are and what you love to do!

This content was originally published here.

A New Wireless-Enabled Audio Processor for Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants

Let’s take a look at ON Semiconductor’s new DSP-based hybrid IC solution that brings wireless connectivity to hearing aids and cochlear implants.

ON Semiconductor’s new Ezairo 7150 SL is based on the Ezairo 7100 digital signal processor (DSP), which, according to this ON Semiconductor video, is “the industry’s most integrated, flexible, and power-efficient mixed-signal DSP solution.” My engineering experience does not include the design of hearing aids or cochlear implants, so I was quite impressed with all the computing power and other associated features that can be included in such hearing-assistance devices.

Figure 1. Highlighted features of the Ezairo 7150 SL hybrid solution. Image taken from this ON-Semiconductor video.

High-Precision Quad-Core Architecture

The Ezairo 7150 SL hybrid solution uses, at the heart of its design, the Ezairo 7100 system-on-chip (SoC), which has a quad-core architecture that is designed for low power consumption and yet performs 375 million instructions per second (MIPS)…or maybe it doesn’t (see below).

Take note that ON Semiconductor uses the phrase “quad-core architecture” and not “quad-core processor.” So don’t assume that this IC has four actual processors; according to the datasheet, the four “cores” are:

  • HEAR configurable accelerator
  • ARM Cortex−M3 processor subsystem
  • Programmable filter engine

Furthermore, to allow a hearing-aid design team to properly balance their own design for optimal computing performance vs. power consumption, the Ezairo 7150 SL provides a configurable system clock speed; the designer can choose between one of twelve clock speed settings, ranging from 1.28 MHz to 15.36 MHz. Uh wait…375 MIPS with clock speeds ranging from 1.28MHz to 15.36MHz?! This doesn’t make sense because processors perform, at the very best, one instruction for every clock pulse—some processor instructions require multiple clock pulses for completion. Therefore, in order to achieve 375 MIPS, either a clock speed of at least 375 MHz is required or a PLL must be used to increase the clock frequency. And while the datasheet does mention the use of a PLL, its stated purpose is “support for communication synchronization with wireless transceiver.” Given this information, it appears that the 375 MIPS specification is a typo.

Figure 2. Block diagram of the Ezairo 7100 DSP-based system. Image courtesy of the Ezairo 7100 product brief.

Some Key Features

Given all the key features that are embedded in this hybrid solution, I’m quite impressed with its small size of only 7.46 × 4.04 × 1.78 mm (see image below).

Figure 3. Package dimensions of the Ezairo 7150 SL. Image courtesy of datasheet (PDF).

The magic behind the wireless transfer of data to and from multiple transceivers lies in the ARM Cortex M3 processor subsystem, which is fully programmable, includes hardwired CODECs, and supports error correction using Reed-Solomon and Hamming code.

To help put a designer’s mind at ease—regarding hackers and hacking—the Ezairo 7150 SL includes built-in data security that encrypts any sensitive, or otherwise secret-sauce, algorithms, prior to storing the program data in the onboard EEPROM.

In an effort to help design teams more quickly design, test, and sell their behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing-aid devices, ON Semiconductor offers their Ezairo 7150 SL Reference Design Kit (see image below) which includes, as noted in the datasheet, the 0W705001GEVK demonstration board.

Figure 4. ON Semiconductor’s Ezairo 7150 SL reference design kit. Image taken from this ON-Semiconductor video.

While other development tools are also available—including some tools specifically designed for assisting software developers—some of ON Semi’s evaluation and development kits are only available under a nondisclosure agreement (NDA). Although I have not personally used development kits that require an NDA, I suppose requiring one is reasonable given that they make available, as advertised, a “full suite of comprehensive tools.”

Control over BLE (CoBLE)

The ability for users of hearing aids and cochlear implants to control so many of their hearing-aid device’s parameters is made possible by the functionality offered by Control over BLE (CoBLE). The previously mentioned reference design includes a sample Android phone app that demonstrates the CoBLE functionality (see image below). Using CoBLE, hearing aid users can perform the following:

  • adjust hearing aid volumes
  • check battery status
  • make program changes
  • receive incoming phone calls and text messages
  • use the “Find Me” function to locate misplaced hearing aids

Figure 5. ON Semiconductor’s Ezairo 7150 SL reference design includes CoBLE functionality. Image taken from this ON-Semiconductor video.

Also included—and this is really cool—is a proprietary protocol that enables, via a remote dongle, streaming of music to the hearing aids from external music sources, such as TVs, tablets, and smartphones; the advertised connectivity range is up to 10 meters. Nice! See the image below for a depiction of how this works.

Figure 6. ON Semiconductor’s Ezairo 7150 SL reference design allows for audio streaming by use of an external dongle. Image taken from this ON-Semiconductor video.

Have you had a chance to use this new DSP-based hybrid IC for hearing aids? If so, leave a comment and tell us about your experiences.

This content was originally published here.

Upton Foundation Grant Will Provide Free Hearing Aids for Low-Income Seniors

It’s one thing not to be able to hear well. It’s another to know that there are solutions for your hearing problem that are simply out of your reach, financially. Fortunately, the Frederick S. Upton Foundation is providing a grant that will get free hearing aids to eligible low-income seniors in Berrien County

It’s true, eligible low-income senior citizens in Berrien County will receive new hearing aids free of charge from a Frederick S. Upton Foundation grant to the Starkey Hearing Foundation Hear Now Mission.  Dr. Gyl Kasewurm, owner of Dr. Kasewurm’s Professional Hearing Services, will partner to fit, test, and care for hearing aids for 120 Berrien County senior citizens who meet the income criteria.

Dr. Gyl says, “We are thrilled to work with the Starkey Hearing Foundation and the Frederick S. Upton Foundation to be able to give the gift of hearing to people in need in Michigan’s Great Southwest,” and adds, “As a lifetime resident of this community, it’s a joy to provide a vehicle that will improve the lives of individuals, their families and this community.”

Carrie Vill is a Frederick S. Upton Foundation Trustee. She says, “Partnering with Dr. Kasewurm and Starkey to meet the hearing needs of seniors in Berrien County fits the Upton Foundation’s goals perfectly – team with skilled professionals to support citizens of the community we love.  Certainly better hearing is something seniors value and low-income seniors need.”

Once a senior turns in a form and gets a hearing test and fitting, they will get their hearing aids at the “Hearing Aid Event” on June 4th.  Individuals already enrolled in certain programs supported by Area Agency on Aging automatically qualify for the free hearing aids and tests, but still need to apply. If not enrolled in the Area Agency on Aging programs, seniors must meet income guidelines to receive the hearing aids. In this case, the net annual income of $24,280 for a single household or $32,920 for a family of two qualifies seniors to receive the service.

Lynn Kellogg is CEO for the Area Agency on Aging. She says, “A person’s ability to engage with family, friends and the community at large is greatly enhanced by the ability to hear,” and notes, “So many older adults can’t afford the luxury of a comprehensive hearing exam and properly fitted hearing aids. This project is important.”

The list of senior support programs that allow you to automatically qualify is on the Berrien Community Foundation website which you can click through to below, or call BCF office at 269-983-3304 and they will mail an application. Here’s the online link:

Lisa Cripps-Downey is President of the Berrien Community Foundation. She tells us, “These community partnerships can be absolutely life changing,” and adds, “With Dr. Kasewurm so willing to give of her time and talent, and the Upton Foundation funding, then it was up to the Berrien Community Foundation and Area Agency on Aging to make sure we reach qualifying seniors who are in need of hearing aids.”

Seniors are encouraged to visit the link above to see if they are supported through a qualifying program or to download an application. Applications are accepted now for a maximum of 120 senior citizens. For questions or to have an application mailed to you, call the Berrien Community Foundation at 269-983-3304.

The Berrien Community Foundation goal is to connect community needs with resources. Working with individuals, corporations and other foundations, BCF creates endowments and other funds to support the ever-changing needs of Berrien County now and into the future. BCF’s Community Endowment and field of interest funds, and donor advised funds, have supported a wide variety of services and agencies for more than 65 years. For information on BCF or how you can create your legacy of giving, visit their website at www.BerrienCommunity.org or call BCF President Lisa Cripps-Downey at (269) 983-3304.

This content was originally published here.

Bose Enters The Hearing Aid Game

The future of hearing aids is upon us. Bose, the company known for making speakers, headphones and more, has been approved by the FDA to market the first-of-its-kind hearing aid.

The Bose approach to hearing aids is different from traditional hearing aids because no healthcare provider will be required for setup. According to an FDA press release, this hearing aid can be fitted, programmed and controlled without the help of a doctor, and the audio levels can easily be adjusted through an app.

The Bose Hearing Aid is meant for individuals 18 years or older with perceived mild to moderate hearing impairment.

Removing visits to traditional healthcare providers from the process of acquiring a hearing aid is a step towards making healthcare even more accessible for some patients, according to the FDA.

Adobe Stock

“Hearing loss is a significant public health issue, especially as individuals age,” said Malvina Eydelman, M.D., director of the Division of Ophthalmic, and Ear, Nose and Throat Devices at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in the press release. “Today’s marketing authorization provides certain patients with access to a new hearing aid that provides them with direct control over the fit and functionality of the device. The FDA is committed to ensuring that individuals with hearing loss have options for taking an active role in their health care.”

According to The Center For Hearing and Communication, 48 million Americans experience “significant hearing loss,” which can be present at birth or happen over time due to exposure to loud noises, like music or trains.

Clearly, there’s a market for a hearing aid that’s accessible and easy to use.

Bose spokesperson Joanne Berhiaume said in a statement to TechCrunch that the company looks forward to providing the Bose Hearing Aid to customers.

“We look forward to bringingaffordable, accessible and great-sounding solutions to the millions of people who could benefit from hearing aids but don’t use them,” she said.

What do you think of this healthcare innovation?

This content was originally published here.

Facett hearing aid takes inspiration from precious gemstones

The mineralogy collection at the Melbourne Museum inspired Australian designer Leah Heiss’ Facett hearing aid, which aims to shift talk “from disability to desirability”.

The hearing aid, designed for company Blamey Saunders Hears, has a shape similar to a jewel and comes in faintly glittering shades of silver, rose gold, black and white. The appearance is distinctive among hearing aids.

Facett hearing aid takes inspiration from precious gemstones

“Facett seeks to shift the stigma of hearing loss, to move these devices from disability to desirability,” Heiss told Dezeen. “All too often products in the category of ‘therapeutic technologies’ are medical-looking, created in skin tones — or ‘disabled beige’ as I refer to it.”

She looked to the minerals in the Melbourne Museum to inspire a different direction for Facett. The device’s colour, surface texture and form comes from this research.

Facett hearing aid takes inspiration from precious gemstones

“These are wearable health technologies that become part of our self-identity, sitting alongside a favourite brooch from our grandmother or a memento from childhood, to be slung onto a bedside table with jewellery and keys rather than stored discreetly in the medical cabinet,” said Heiss, who won Australia’s Good Design Award for the project earlier this year.

The Facett hearing aid is also distinguished by its two-part construction, which means a battery “module” in the base can be easily recharged, replaced or upgraded while keeping the “core” in use.

Facett hearing aid takes inspiration from precious gemstones

In what Blamey Saunders Hears says is a “world first”, it will release optional features like wireless charging in future modules, allowing users to access updated technology without replacing the whole device.

“Facett enables people to build their own hearing experience,” said the company’s co-founder and technical director Peter Blamey.

​”This is about helping people get over the line to take up a technology that could dramatically improve their health and wellbeing — to get them past that emotional barrier through great design.”

The battery came in for particular attention from Heiss and Blamey Saunders Hears in the design process. They wanted it to be easy to handle and replace, in contrast to the tiny batteries that can pose problems for people with limited dexterity.

Facett’s battery remains encased in the plastic module that forms the base of the hearing aid and attaches to the upper half with magnets. To recharge it, users slip the module into a groove in the storage pod, which doubles as a charging station.

Facett hearing aid takes inspiration from precious gemstones

Each Facett hearing aid comes with two pairs of rechargeable modules, so the user can always leave one set in the charger.

The device is suitable for people with mild to moderately severe hearing loss, and users can order theirs by taking an online speech perception test. They adjust settings using the accompanying IHearYou app.

Facett hearing aid takes inspiration from precious gemstones

Another recent design for people with hearing problems is Liron Gino’s Vibeat, a headphone replacement for experiencing music through vibration on the body.

This content was originally published here.

We sent Double J’s Zan Rowe to get a hearing test. Here’s what happened

We sent Double J’s Zan Rowe to get a hearing test. Here’s what happened

In a quiet room in a Sydney office block, Zan Rowe is experiencing some trepidation.

The Double J radio presenter and long-time music journalist has been going to gigs for two decades, sometimes standing so close to the speaker stack she feels like her organs are vibrating.

But she’s never had her hearing tested. Until now.

“I’m going put some headphones on you, and I’m going to play some sounds, and I’m going to get you to push a button every time you hear a sound,” Simone Punch, a special audiologist with Australian Hearing, tells Rowe.

The damage done

The test, which takes about 10 minutes, is the same one available to any music fan who feels like they’ve had a few too many nights that ended with a ringing in the ears.

And while the rules are less clear when it comes to live music environments.

Any more than 15 minutes of sound at 100 decibels, a standard level for a pub gig, is dangerous to your ears.

“I think we are really good at protecting our ears in work situations, anywhere where there is industrial noise,” Ms Punch says.

“But I think we still have a long way to go with sounds that we enjoy, like music.”

Don’t pump up the volume

It’s not just about live music, either.

Ms Punch says people who use ear buds on public transport can be tempted to turn the volume up to drown out the natural sound.

That’s bad, she says. Get noise-cancelling headphones instead.

“I have stood behind people [on trains] and thought, ‘Oh dear, I am going to see you in a few years’ time in my office’.”

After her appointment, Rowe will be fitted with moulded ear protection devices — made from a green substance that looks not unlike play dough — which lower the volume without spoiling the sound.

The verdict

First, though, there’s the little matter of the test results.

Suddenly: “I think I heard something.”

Ms Punch watches on, and confirms that, yes, you did hear something — a very quiet tone played through the headphones.

That means you passed the test.

“Oh man, what a relief,” Rowe says. “Does that mean, on this basis of this hearing test, I’ve gotten away with murder?”

“I hope so,” the audiologist replies, but there’s no definitive way to tell — hearing damage is cumulative. It can show up later on.

In the meantime, she says, wear your ear plugs — and stay away from the speaker stack.

First posted

This content was originally published here.

Why Cheap Hearing Aids are Hard to Find

This guest post on hearing aid costs was contributed by Ed Belcher*, who put together this eye-opening, neat piece of analysis.

Did you ever wonder why a hearing aid costs up to 6x more than an iPad? Peeling the onion on the cost structure of both devices reveals an eye-opening comparison into the dynamics of either industry. It can provide us with pointers on where the future price and cost tags could (and should) shift.

Hearing Aid Costs vs iPad Costs

Let’s assume a high-end hearing aid costs $1000 to the audiologist when he/she buys it from the manufacturer and consequently gets sold for $3000 to the consumer. Now if you dissect the $1000, based on a study by the German Competition Regulator, the following total cost breakdown emerges:

Now, let’s take a closer look at the iPad: a recent study at the University of California, Irvine took a closer look at the cost structure of a regular iPad and came up with the following segmentation:

Bear with us, as we plot these numbers on a chart:

The manufacturing and distribution hearing aid costs are upside-down in comparison to the manufacturing and distribution costs of an iPad.

The iPad is subject to hard, unfettered competition. Its manufacturer profit, marketing, R&D and dispensing costs combined take up 45% of the retail price.  The production cost takes the balance (55%) of the retail price.

Most hearing aids are made by the Big-6 consortium which shares patents and does business in a mutually beneficial way. The prices of hearing aids sold by dispensing businesses are around 3x their wholesale cost. In that case, the production cost of a hearing aid comprises only 8% of its bundled price.  The remaining 92% is made up mostly of dispensing fees, administration salaries, and profits.

Granted, the market structure is different for both products. For instance, the sheer sales volumes of iPads far surpass those of hearing aids: Apple sold 3 million iPads in the first 72 hours of its recent launch. By contrast, 3 million units are what the entire hearing aids industry sells in one year. This sales volume allows for different economies of scale, especially when it comes to retail.

Furthermore there is a more involved service component attached to hearing aid dispensing (however not as much as what is traditionally claimed). Hearing aid dispensing, based on personal experiences when shopping in varied businesses for hearing aids, took 1 hour for the exam and discussion of HA options; 1 hour for fitting and training; and up to 2 hours for up to four 30-minute adjustments/training, a total of 4 hours of contact time. Assuming $100 per hour, consultation should yield a total of $400 in dispensing service fees.

In any case, the comparison is still startling and should raise questions on whether the industry and hearing aid costs are really operating at its most favorable level for the consumer. Let’s look at the next piece of analysis.

Hearing Aid Costs With an iPad Cost Structure

The aforementioned hearing aid that a dispenser buys for $1000 costs about $250 to make, as we saw with the previous example. So we start with the $250 production cost.

If the iPad-structure were followed based on the $250 production cost (i.e. 55% of the total) then:

Let’s pause here and put this figure into perspective: $1,310 is equivalent to 22% of the traditional $6000 for the same pair!

What does this calculation imply on the audiologist revenues per customer? The $455 retail price includes a 15% markup (same as the iPad) of $68.25/aid. The total proceeds to the dispenser is 2*$68.25 + $400 = $537 for each customer served.

The questions that remain are thus:

Tell us what you think; we would love to hear your opinion!

* Ph.D. EE, Career researcher (retired) in underwater acoustics at the University of Washington

Sources: German Competition Regulator, The Economist, MSN Money, Lucille Beck, Director of Audiology, VA, The Hill

This content was originally published here.