How Audéo Lumity overcomes that feeling of ‘hearing in the dark’

Hearing loss can sometimes make people feel like they’re trying to hear conversations in the dark. Audiologist, David Crowhen highlights the features in Phonak Audéo Lumity that improve speech understanding to make conversations shine.

When I first graduated, trim pot hearing aids were still around!  So, every new product launch makes me reflect on just how far technology has progressed, and Phonak’s 75-year legacy of innovation has been nothing short of impressive, and far too comprehensive to cover here.1

Some personal favorites are shown in Figure 1. They range from monaural (AudioZoom, ca. 1995) and binaural beamformers (StereoZoom, ca. 2012) for improving speech understanding from the front in noise within the near-field (up to 1.5 – 2m from talker)2,3 through to Roger technology.

Roger eliminated the frequency management/interference issues associated with legacy FM technology4 and, by way of an adaptive algorithm and various microphone configurations (e.g., Small Group mode, multi-talker networks) delivers hearing performance beyond what is possible with fixed gain systems.5-10

Recently, innovations have focused more on tangible areas relating to convenience and usability, such as:

  • Rechargeability powered by Li-Ion battery technology (Audéo B-R launch in 2016)
  • Universal direct connectivity to Bluetooth enabled devices (Audéo Marvel launch in 2018)
  • Sensor based functionality, such as Tap control (Audéo Paradise launch in 2021)
  • Health data tracking (Audéo Fit, 2022) and reliability(Audéo P Life, 2022)

                Figure 1: Some personal favorites from the comprehensive 75 years of innovation by Phonak.

Speech understanding remains a key need

Convenience/usability features help make device use easier,11,12 enhancing satisfaction.  Reliability is also a well-known driver of satisfaction with hearing aids, however so too is ‘clarity of sound’, ‘use in noise’ and ‘speech understanding in small groups.’13 

This mirrors our most recent consumer research14, revealing the top-rated requirements from end-users continue to center around their communication needs such as:

  • Hearing soft speech in quiet
  • 1:1 conversations in noise situations
  • Speech understanding in a group conversation in a loud environment

Insights like this, along with others showing:

  • ~20% of speech does not originate from the front15
  • Preference for greater directionality in even lower noise levels16
  • Accuracy of classification and better resulting performance from AutoSense OS versus manual program selection16

… led to the development of two new key features in Lumity: StereoZoom 2.0 and SpeechSensor (There’s actually 7 Smart speech features in Lumity that help improve speech understanding – check out my colleague Jane Woodward’s blog for a description of each of these.17)

StereoZoom 2.0 – Smoother, smarter, stronger

StereoZoom has been taken to a new level with Phonak Audéo Lumity. It has a smoother transition in/out of this microphone setting, and, following research indicating a preference for greater directionality even in lower noise levels16, a smarter (lower) activation threshold.  Furthermore, wearers can further enhance the strength of StereoZoom 2.0 using the myPhonak App.

The result? A significant 16% improvement in speech understanding with speech from the front compared to fixed directional setting.18

SpeechSensor   

So, what about the 20% of the time we are not facing the speaker?15  This is where SpeechSensor is used to automatically detect where the dominant speaker is located, feeding this information to AutoSense OS 5.0 to adjust the direction microphone mode accordingly.19

The microphone modes and corresponding benefits of SpeechSensor are shown in Table 1.  In addition to the benefits for speech understanding, results showed an 11% reduction in reported listening effort when speech was from the side / behind (Fixed directional and Real Ear Sound vs StereoZoom 2.0, respectively).18

Table 1. Summary of directional beamforming configurations and the benefits they provide across different listening situations.18

Speech directionMicrophone modeDescriptionBenefit17
FrontStereoZoom 2.0Binaural beamformer with sharp focus to the front.1.6 dB improvement vs. front facing, fixed directional Mic (default setting)
Right /LeftFixed DirectionalGreater awareness of sound from side allows wearer to then orient head to side speaker1.7 dB SRT improvement for speech from side vs. StereoZoom, equivalent to 17% better speech understanding  
BehindReal Ear Sound (RES)Omni-directional <1500 Hz and directional above1.4 dB SRT improvement for speech from back vs. StereoZoom, equivalent to 14% better speech understanding

Audéo Lumity provides a solution to help your clients farewell any feeling of hearing in the dark caused by their hearing loss.  Audéo Lumity reflects the next step in Phonak’s evolution of speech understanding, and, through implementing innovative features, delivers significant hearing benefits in noise.


To learn more about Phonak Audéo Lumity, please visit our product pages.

References:

  1. About Phonak – History of innovation. Retrieved from https://www.phonak.com/com/en/about-us/history.html, accessed November 14, 2022.
  2. Gravel, J. S., Fausel, N., Liskow, C. & Chobot, J. (1999). Children’s speech recognition in noise using omni-directional and dual-directional microphone hearing aid technology. Ear & Hear., 20(1): 1-11
  3. Picou, E. M., Aspell., E. & Ricketts, T. A. (2014).  Potential benefits and limitations of three types of directional processing in hearing aids. Ear & Hear., 35(3): 339-352 
  4. Roger – The new wireless technology standard. Phonak Insight. Retrieved from https://www.phonakpro.com/content/dam/phonakpro/gc_hq/en/resources/evidence/white_paper/documents/technical_paper/Insight_Roger_new_wireless_Technology_028-0955.pdf.
  5. Lejon, A. K. (2019). Significant improvement in speech intelligibility and listening effort in meetings with RogerDirect™ and Roger Table Mic II. Phonak Field Study News. Retrieved from https://www.phonakpro.com/content/dam/phonakpro/gc_hq/en/resources/evidence/field_studies/documents/fsn_btb_rogerdirect_and_roger_table_mic_II_in_meetings_210x280_en_v1.00.pdf.
  6. Thibodeau, L. (2014). Comparison of speech recognition with adaptive digital and FM wireless technology by listeners who use hearing aids. American Journal of Audiology, 23(2), 201-210
  7. Wolfe, J. et al. (2013). Evaluation of speech recognition of cochlear implant recipients using a personal digital adaptive radio frequency system. American Journal of Audiology, 24(8), 714-724(11)
  8. Wolfe, J. et al. (2015). Comparison of wireless microphones: Study indicates that Roger delivers superior listening performance in moderate-to-high background noise. Phonak Field Study News. Retrieved from https://www.phonak.com/content/dam/phonak/en/evidence-library/field-studies/fsn_Roger_Pen_Microphone_Mode_Comparison.pdf.
  9. De Ceulaer G, Bestel J, Mülder HE, et al. (2016). Speech understanding in noise with the Roger Pen, Naida CI Q70 processor, and integrated Roger 17 receiver in a multi-talker network. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 273(5):1107-14.
  10. Rich, S. & Gidandet, X. (2016). RogerTM Touchscreen Mic Small Group mode – Changing the dynamics of group activities in the classroom. Phonak Insight. Retrieved from https://www.phonakpro.com/content/dam/phonakpro/gc_hq/en/resources/evidence/white_paper/documents/technical_paper/insight_btb_roger_touchscreen_mic_small_group_mode_season1_2016_210x297_gb_v1%2000_028-1498-02.pdf
  11. Crowhen D. (2018). Rechargeable batteries: A study of time savings and ease of use. Hearing Review, 25(6):24-26. https://hearingreview.com/inside-hearing/research/rechargeable-batteries-study-time-savings-ease-use
  12. Crowhen D. (2019). Ease of hearing aid pairing and sound-quality ratings for binaurally streamed phone and music. Hearing Review, 26(7):28-30. https://hearingreview.com/hearing-loss/hearing-loss-prevention/music-entertainment/ease-hearing-aid-pairing-sound-quality-ratings-binaurally-streamed-phone-music
  13. Kochkin, S. (2010). Marke Trak VIII: Consumer satisfaction with hearing aids is slowly increasing. The Hearing Journal, 63(1), 19-32.
  14. Knorr, H. (2020). Market Research ID 4373. Please contact marketinsight@phonak.com if you are interested in further information
  15. Walden, B.E., Surr, R.K., Cord, M.T. et al. (2004) Predicting hearing aid microphone preference in everyday listening. J Am Acad Audiol, 15(5): 365-96.
  16. Searchfield, G. S., Linford, T., Kobayashi, K. et al. (2018) The performance of an automatic acoustic-based program classifier compared to hearing aid users’ manual selection of listening programs, International Journal of Audiology, 57:3, 201-212
  17. Jane Woodward (2022). 7-smartspeech-technology-features-that-improve-speech-understanding. Phonak Audiology Blog. Retrieved from https://audiologyblog.phonakpro.com/7-smartspeech-technology-features-that-improve-speech-understanding/, accessed November 14, 2022.
  18. Latzel, M., Lesimple, C., & Woodward, J (2022). New implementation of directional beamforming
    configurations shows improved speech understanding and reduced listening effort. Phonak Field Study News. Retrieved from https://www.phonak.com/content/dam/phonak/en/evidence-library/field-studies/PH_FieldStudyNews_LumityDirectionalBeamforming_210x297_EN_028-2475-02_V1-00.pdf.
  19. Woodward, J., Kuehnel, V., & Latzel, M. Innovative speech understanding solutions: Lumity with Phonak SmartSpeech™ Technology. Phonak Insight. Retrieved from https://www.phonak.com/content/dam/phonak/en/evidence-library/white-paper/technical-paper/PH_Insight_SmartSpeech_210x297_EN_V1.00_028-2448-02.pdf.

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