In today’s fast-paced digital age, the adage “There’s an app for that” holds true for nearly every aspect of our lives. From shopping and studying to relaxation and leisure, mobile applications have become indispensable tools in modern living. The widespread penetration of smartphones has placed an expansive array of appliances and applications at our fingertips, ushering in an era of unparalleled convenience.
Even in the field of healthcare, traditional medical devices like hearing aids have not been no exception to the technological revolution.
In this article, we explore how Signia, a leading name in the hearing aid industry, has been a fore runner in this digital transformation, updating their existing app in 2023 to further enhance hearing aid functionality and the overall user experience.
Signia’s Vision for User-Centric Innovation
Hearing aid applications were conventionally developed to operate as a remote control for basic hearing aid functions such as volume controls and program changes.
Signia’s app has now evolved into a user-friendly interface that empowers users to manipulate their hearing aid settings with unprecedented ease. This evolution extends beyond mere convenience; it places control firmly in the hands of the wearer, fostering a sense of empowerment and ownership over their hearing experience. Notably, Signia’s app also enables remote support from hearing care professionals, embodying a patient-centred approach to hearing care.
What is great is that Signia has been steadfast in its commitment to research and usability. The company has invested in research-backed solutions and conducted extensive internal usability studies to ensure that its app delivers a user friendly experience. Signia’s dedication to improving hearing aid functionality is evident in its continuous efforts to update firmware, ensuring that its hearing aids evolve to meet user needs effectively.
Signia App: Features and Functionality
Signia’s app offers an impressive array of features designed to enhance the auditory experience for users. Let’s take a deeper look into these features:
Signia’s app empowers users to adjust the volume of their hearing aids effortlessly. This is particularly beneficial for devices that lack manual volume controls, providing users with the flexibility to fine-tune their hearing experience according to their preferences and changing environments.
Users can seamlessly switch between different program settings, each customized for specific environments and listening scenarios. This dynamic adjustment ensures a personalized auditory experience that adapts to real-world conditions.
The app allows users to fine-tune bass and treble sounds, meant to enhance speech clarity and overall audio quality. This function may not appear useful to all users-as adjusting the different pitch levels can sometimes confuse first time wearers.
Signia’s app configures the microphones within the hearing aids to focus on specific sounds while attenuating others. For example, the user can set the microphone to amplify only sounds coming from the front, to allow better focus and reduce the signal to noise ratio for improved speech clarity.
The directionality setting can significantly improve the ability to hear in noisy environments, a common challenge for individuals with hearing loss. Some experimentation can sometimes help find the ideal setting for speech clarity in noisy situations.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Signia introduced Mask Mode. This feature addresses the challenge of communicating with others while wearing a mask. It increases the volume of muffled speech sounds while minimizing the distortion caused by masks, allowing more clear and comfortable communication.
Some hearing aid users have been known to use Mask Mode as a quick shortcut to enhance speech with the click of a button to improve clarity for softer voices on the fly.
The Signia Assistant is a personalized hearing companion available through the Signia app for iOS and Android smartphones.
Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), the Signia Assistant goes beyond mere automation. It refines the user’s voice and the voices of others, creating a more natural auditory experience. The AI even learns from users’ preferences and usage patterns, optimizing settings for challenging listening environments.
Additionally, the Signia Assistant provides essential information, customized settings, troubleshooting guides, and 24/7 support to enhance your hearing experience and boost confidence.
TeleCare: Virtual Appointments, CareChat and Hearing Lessons
The world has become a global village, and distance is no longer a barrier to healthcare access. Telecare offers remote support from hearing care practitioners. This includes a 24/7 virtual appointment scheduling function, accessible through an encrypted code shared between the professional and the hearing aid user.
Professionals can make real-time adjustments to hearing aid settings, ensuring optimal performance and comfort for the wearer.
This feature helps promote holistic health by leveraging the hearing aids’ built-in motion sensor. My Wellbeing automatically tracks physical activity levels, daily step counts, daily hearing aid use rates, and social interactions. The data it collects provides valuable insights into social, mental, and emotional well-being. It fosters accountability and enables caregivers and loved ones to provide better support.
Signia continues to push the boundaries of hearing aid technology with continuous additions and app updates:
Auto Echo Shield and Own Voice Processing 2.0: These features represent advancements of existing features in sound processing. Auto Echo Shield analyzes and adjusts sound processing to prioritize critical speech cues, while Own Voice Processing 2.0 separates the wearer’s voice from ambient sounds, enabling confident and comfortable conversations.
Hands-free and Call Control: The integration of hands-free calling allows users to answer and end calls using their hearing aids, eliminating the need to physically interact with their smartphones.
Upgraded eWindscreen and AX SoundScape Processing: Recent firmware updates introduced improvements in wind noise reduction and the processing of the wearer’s voice for more effective communication in challenging acoustic environments. Moreover, the own voice detection system now serves as an intelligent input for AX Soundscape Processing, offering even more robust support in complex listening situations.
LE Audio Ready: The latest Integrated Xperience (IX) hearing aid platform is said to be ready for Bluetooth LE Audio and Auracast capability, once a new firmware update is released.
The Signia Experience: Empowering Users
Signia’s commitment to app updates ensures that users benefit from the latest real-time tracking and additional functionality. The app’s compatibility with both iOS and Android operating systems, coupled with its seamless integration with Bluetooth-enabled Signia hearing aids, offers a good solution.
To access the full range of features, users need to invest in a Bluetooth-enabled Signia hearing aid and download the Signia app. While tech-savvy individuals may find the setup straightforward, comprehensive video tutorials are available to assist those who may require guidance. This inclusive approach ensures that individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and technological aptitudes can harness the benefits of these cutting-edge features. Family members or support staff can also play a crucial role in facilitating access to these features for older individuals.
The integration of mobile apps with hearing aids has ushered in a new era of user satisfaction, with a significant increase of hearing aid users reporting high levels of satisfaction compared to 10 years ago. This transition empowers users to tailor their hearing experiences according to their unique preferences, marking a significant stride toward widespread hearing aid adoption.
Looking Ahead: A Future of Promise
As technology continues its rapid evolution, the future holds the promise of even more remarkable advancements in hearing care and hearing aid functionality. Signia’s unwavering dedication to innovation and user-centric design positions it as a leader in the industry, driving positive change in the lives of individuals with hearing loss.
In conclusion, Signia’s journey from conventional hearing aid manufacturer to a digital pioneer is a testament to the transformative power of technology. The combination of mobile apps and hearing aids has created a synergy that empowers users, enhances their quality of life, and sets the stage for a future where hearing care is more accessible, personalized, and user-centric than ever before.
- Picou E. M. (2022). Hearing Aid Benefit and Satisfaction Results from the MarkeTrak 2022 Survey: Importance of Features and Hearing Care Professionals. Seminars in hearing, 43(4), 301–316. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0042-1758375
- Taylor, B., Jensen, N. (2023) Unlocking Quality of Life Benefits Through Firmware and Apps. Hearing Review https://hearingreview.com/hearing-products/hearing-aids/unlocking-quality-of-life-benefits-through-firmware-and-apps
- Signia App (2023). Signia. https://www.signia.net/en-za/connectivity/signia-app/
About the author
Nausheen Dawood is an experienced Audiologist and Project Manager with a professional background including primary health care, corporate social investment, and business development. Proficient in the development of academic courses, training, and lecturing, with a focus on clinical student training and supervision. Adept in freelance copywriting, particularly in audiology and health-related topics. Holds a Masters degree in Audiology (Cum Laude), with a strong foundation in clinical research, project development, and strategic planning, complemented by technical training. Specializes in content development and training tailored to diverse audiences. Demonstrates a long-term commitment to research and development, including the implementation of randomized controlled trials, projects, and clinical examinations. Known for establishing robust networks and cultivating valuable stakeholder relationships.