Open Ear Hearing Aid Technology

By: Kelly Calkins

If you are thinking about getting a hearing aid, you probably want one that is small, that no one can see, and one that can help you hear better and is comfortable. Well, there is good news for you! New Open Ear hearing aid technology has dramatically improved hearing capabilities as well as good looks.

The Open Ear style hearing aid is a discreet device that sends the sounds into your ear in one of two ways. Some Open Ear style hearing aids use a small tube with an earbud (a soft tip) on the end that connects to your ear. A more recent innovation in Open Ear hearing aid design is the receiver in the ear delivery system. The names for this type of product vary. You may see them advertised as RIC, RITE, or CRT. They all mean the same thing, the receiver (speaker) is actually in your ear and connected to the hearing aid by a thin wire.

Using a RITE connection provides several benefits. This is so the wire cannot kink from repetitive use and it will maintain its shape. Because the speaker is actually in the ear, the sound quality is better and the hearing aid can provide more high frequency amplification. Feedback (that annoying whistling sound) happens less often because the microphone and the speaker are further apart. Hearing aid manufacturers have also developed disposable wax guards for the speaker which are easily replaced. This style results in less breakdowns from earwax.

Of the current Open Ear products using RITE technology, the Oticon Delta hearing aid is one of the most popular. Oticon Delta has a small, triangular design. Because it is so small, this hearing aid looks like it could be a bluetooth communication device or a fasion accessory. The Delta hearing aid is available in a variety of colors, some trendy and some designed to camouflage. I find most patients want discreet colors which hide the hearing aid in your hair and make it virtually invisible. However, sometimes a patient will want to make a bold statement and pick a color like Deep Purple or Sunset Orange.

The Oticon Delta hearing aid was selected as an International CES Best of Innovations 2007 Design and Engineering Award winner. Innovations 2007 recognizes the best-designed and best-engineered products in consumer technology, and is one of the most widely renowned consumer technology awards programs worldwide. The Oticon Delta hearing aid was awarded one of the highest scores in the Personal Electronics category based on its value to a user, aesthetics, contributions to quality of life, and innovative qualities.

Another popular new Open Ear hearing aid is the Phonak Audeo. Very tiny, light and discreet, the Audeo hearing aid has several features that make it an excellent choice. CrystalSound is the core of the hearing aid processor. It digitally amplifies the subtle, high-pitched sounds critical to understanding speech and makes sure nothing gets lost. Digital SurroundZoom is one the industry's best directional microphone systems. All packaged into a cool, Red Dot Design Award winning form that combines style with ergonomics and practicality. The Audeo shape is designed to allow optimum placement of the dual microphones on the hearing aid for the best performance in noise.

Many Open Ear hearing aids can also be used for more than just high frequency hearing loss. By making a custom tip, they can be used for moderate to severe hearing loss at all frequencies. This allows even more hearing aid users to enjoy the technological and cosmetic advantages. Open Ear technology is the new breakthrough for hearing aid users.

Ear Nose and Throat
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