Earlier this month, Signia (formerly Siemens) announced their latest hearing aid innovation: Notch Therapy. According to the company, they are the first in the hearing aid industry to use the novel approach to combat tonal tinnitus, the most common form of tinnitus.

Tonal tinnitus, defined by the American Tinnitus Association, is the “perception of near-continuous sound (or overlapping sounds) with well-defined frequencies”. In many cases, individuals experiencing tonal tinnitus can perceive fluctuating changes in volume over time.

 

Hearing Aids and Tinnitus Management

 

Patients undergoing tinnitus treatment are often prescribed hearing aids and also undergo some type of noise or sound therapy to help reduce the intensity of their symptoms. However, unlike traditional sound therapy acoustic stimuli or noise, Notch Therapy is inaudible. This new, proprietary feature enables hearing care professionals to program hearing aids with a filtered “notch” centered at the pitch of the tinnitus.

According to a recent study (Strausse, et al, 2015), published in Clinical Otolaryngology, subjects with Notch Therapy activated in their hearing aids, compared with those that used hearing aids alone, showed a significant improvement within three weeks and maintained the benefit past six months.

 

tinnitus notch therapy hearing aids graph

Left: Average reduction of Tinnitus Questionnaire 52 (TQ52) scores for individuals with Conventional Fitting and Notch Fitting. A reduction of the TQ52 score corresponds to an improvement in tinnitus perception and relief. Right: Percent of benefit based on TQ52 scores at 3 and 6 months.

 

How Does Tinnitus Notch Therapy Work?

 

During the course of the hearing aid fitting, the hearing professional identifies the pitch of the tinnitus sound, then activates a “notch” that matches pitch within the hearing aids.

 

For example, if the patient’s tinnitus is centered around 1,000 Hz, the hearing aids can be set to provide amplification for the patient according to their hearing loss across the frequency range, with the exception of at 1,000 Hz. This therapy technique utilizes cortical lateral inhibition, a neural mechanism that reduces the activity in the over-stimulated region of the brain responsible for many types of tinnitus, and has been shown in multiple clinical studies to be highly effective.

 

According to the company, this “this strategically placed spectral notch works to suppress tinnitus at its neurological source without restricting good hearing and speech comprehension” and thereby allows the brain to learn to disregard the tinnitus sound over time.

 

notch therapy tinnitus software

Tonal Tinnitus Therapy screen in Signia Connexx fitting software, showing a Manually Entered pitch match as 3333 Hz, with the Frequency Check completed and the notch activated in all three listening programs.

 

Tinnitus Management: Options

 

The new Notch Therapy approach to tinnitus is available in Signia primax hearing aids, which is offered in addition to the more traditional sound therapy options that are also available for activation within the fitting software.

According to the company, the hearing aids can be used to provide relief to tinnitus patients, with or without hearing loss.

Australian audio-wearable maker, Nuheara, launched their flagship IQbuds™ hearable at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. The production of the IQbuds are the result of a highly successful 2016 Indiegogo funding campaign, which saw the company vastly exceed its fundraising goal.

Initial backers of the device have already received them, but the company says their new hearable will be ready for shipment to the general public in March 2017.

 

“Our IQbuds have been tested on thousands of consumers who are delighted they can finally have solutions to hear what they want to hear – from great quality music to ‘pub deafness’. We are extremely proud that we’re shipping on time, as promised, and less than twelve months after our first prototype and seven months from the conclusion of our initial crowdfunding campaign.” –Justin Miller, CEO and co-founder of Nuheara

 

The company says their technology allows the user to completely augment and control their audio environment to hear what they want to hear.

 

IQbuds: Feature Rich Hearable

 

The new hearables come with a number of advanced features, including an app that allows the end user to control how they hear the world around them and connect to their digital devices.

 

iqbuds hearable

 

Some of the features found within IQbuds, such as noise reduction, are likely familiar to hearing professionals and hearing aid users.

Among the features found within the IQbuds are:

  • Speech Amplification – Multiple microphones enhance a user’s ability to hear speech in crowded restaurants, parties, etc.
  • Dynamic Noise Reduction — Nuheara’s proprietary SINC™ (Super Intelligent Noise Cancellation) technology helps selectively tune in or tune out the world around you.
  • High Fidelity Sound The IQbuds are said to deliver high fidelity sound, comparable to over-the-ear headphones.
  • “Blended” Hearing – Users can choose the best audio blend of digital music and the sounds around you for situational awareness.
  • Secure Fit — Sweat-proof, water resistant and designed for all-day comfort.
  • Tap Touch Control – Users can navigate between the IQbuds features with simple tap touch control on the ear. This feature gives you control of music, phone calls and the ability to easily modify the listening experience without having to even touch your phone.
  • Battery Life – Nuheara has achieved the best battery life currently available in a hearable device. A single charge of IQbuds™ provides 16 hours of on-the-go Bluetooth streaming and 32 hours of on-the-go hearing augmentation.

 

 

According to the company announcement, when the new devices go on sale to the public next month, they will retail at $299 per pair.

 

Source: Nuheara, Indiegogo