Audeo Life water protection

Audéo Life sets a new, high standard for water protection technology

Innovations made to housing and internal components provide additional protection to reduce clients’ anxiety around water and physical activities.

A number of innovations have been developed on the hearing aid side over the years, including multi-layered microphone covers, hydrophobic coatings, and additional seals inside the housings . . . helping many hearing aids to achieve an IP 68 Rating. 

‘A what rating?’ Did you just ask?

The Ingress Protection (IP) rating system tests the protection an enclosure can offer against ingress of solids and water. Each rating starts with IP, to show it’s an ingress protection rating, followed by two digits.

  • The first digit lets you know the level of protection against solid ingress (0 = No protection; 6 = Dust protection)
  • The second digit shows you how protected the product is against the ingress of water (0= No protection, 9 = Can withstand direct spray of high-pressure, high-temperature industrial water jets from multiple angles).

An IP68 indicates full protection from dust and debris as well as survival in a given depth of water for a specified number of minutes as defined by the manufacturer.1

However IP test conditions do not necessarily mirror real-life use cases, for example the tests typically only use fresh water whereas hearing aids can be exposed to sweat, salt water and chlorinated water, which can further damage the metallic electrical components in hearing aids. 

Audéo Life goes beyond IP 68 Rating

This rechargeable hearing aid combines the hearing performance of Audéo Paradise with a robust new housing that provides additional protection from water and sweat. This hearing aid is capable of being submerged in up to 50cm (or 1.64 feet) of fresh, pool or salt water.

A recent paper2 by my colleague Chase Smith does a fabulous job explaining how Audéo Life™ sets a new standard for reducing clients’ anxiety around water and physical activities.  The Audéo Life focused on innovations to the housing and internal components in 3 key areas:

  1. Microphone protection
    • 4 Mic ports, with a cover over the rear microphone to protect from damage from direct water pressure.
  2. Fewer potential points of entry into the housing
    • A pin-less receiver port (toolless attachment/detachment), with additional silicone seals.
    • Wireless, inductive charging that eliminates the needs for charging contacts, meaning less openings in the housing.
  3. Protective coating of electronic components
    • Coating of the internal module and rechargeable battery with a thin layer of parylene (a flexible plastic polymer often used to protect sensitive electronic equipment).

The receivers that attach to the hearing aids also have some protection through their encapsulation within plastic polymer, however water can still enter through the sound spout so wearers should avoid submerging this part in water.

An active dry store system like the ones mentioned in my previous blog article remain a good option for trying to prevent moisture build-up inside the receivers, which can lead to damage and the need to replace this consumable part more regularly.


Putting Audéo Life … through Life!

Audéo Life has been subjected to tests that include both salt and chlorinated water, at 500 C and under pressure conditions equivalent to 50cm emersion in water, for 5 minutes (see Fig 1).

Each validation unit underwent this test regime a staggering 520 times because collectively, these conditions accelerate the aging process and attempt to emulate the 5-year typical lifecycle for hearing aids.3 

Despite this high number of exposure cycles, 70% of devices exposed to salt water continued to operate within normal limits, and another one also did after it dried out.  When exposed to chlorinated water, 90% continued to operate within the normal range.

Taken together, these results show the Audéo Life hearing aid can take consumer confidence around water to the next level.

Fig 1: A – Audéo Life emersion testing for both salt and pool water (click on image to access video).
Fig 1: B – Audéo Life emersion testing for sweat (click on image to access video).

* Hearing aid waterproof up to 0.5 meters during warranty period. Water can still enter the receiver sound spout, so users should avoid submerging this part in water, and the use of an active dry system continues to be a good line of defense to help prevent moisture build up in this part. Regular cleaning of wax and debris from the sound spout is also recommended to help maintain optimal performance. Receivers are a consumable part, like car tires, and will require replacing from time to time throughout the life of the hearing aid1.  

 

What do the reviewers have to say about Audéo Life? Check out this Clip by Cliff Olson, Doctor of Audiology.

To learn more about this world’s first waterproof* rechargeable hearing aid, we invite you to visit our product pages.


References:

1. Smith, C. (2022) Phonak Audéo Life™ sets a new standard for reducing clients’ anxiety around water and physical activities. Phonak Insight. Retrieved from: www.phonakpro.com/evidence. Accessed June 30, 2022.

2. Phonak internal testing protocols, as cited in Smith, C. (2022) Phonak Audéo Life™ sets a new standard for reducing clients’ anxiety around water and physical activities. Phonak Insight. Retrieved from: www.phonakpro.com/evidence. Accessed June 30, 2022.