Technology from Canada is designed to reduce hearing loss

HAMILTON, ON—Traditionally, hearing aids have helped people with hearing loss by amplifying and processing sound in such a way that users can make the most of their residual hearing. They are not expected to improve people’s ability to hear unaided. But now, for the second time in the past few months, hearing aid technology has been introduced that is intended to improve people’s auditory system.

As Hearing News Watch reported last month, The Good Ear, a Los Angeles-based company, has developed a hearing aid, the TSC-i48, that incorporates Threshold Sound Conditioning, a process that the manufacturer says reduces hearing loss caused by damaged hair cells plans. The company plans to start selling the product in this country later this year or in early 2013.

On October 23, VitaSound Audio, of Hamilton, ON, was honored for software designed to actually reduce people’s hearing loss. The company, which was formerly a subsidiary of Sonomax Hearing Healthcare, received the 2012 Mind to Market Award at the Ontario Centres of Excellence Annual Meeting in Toronto for its discovery.

VitaSound, which offers hearing aids, earphones, and hearing protection products, developed  the Neuro-Compensator™  in conjunction with McMaster University in Hamilton. It is designed to treat hearing loss through stimulation of damaged nerves in the auditory system. The software can be used with any style of hearing aid to enhance its performance.

According to VitaSound, “The Neuro-Compensator-based hearing instrument is powered by the newest groundbreaking neuro-biological technology designed to enforce an optimal signal from the root of the auditory nerve to the brain. The Neuro-Compensator amplifies the audio bands so as to target a near-normal neuronal activity in the auditory system.”

Gora Ganguli, president and CEO of the company, called the approach “revolutionary,” and added, “We truly think we have the next big thing to bring better hearing to more people.”

Ganguli, who joined VitaSound in 2007, has worked in the microelectronics industry for over 30 years, including at Gennum Corp. where he was a senior vice-president and manager of the audio division for many years.

The Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) have provided support to VitaSound’s research as part of a collaborative program between the business and research communities leading to the commercialization of leading-edge ideas and solutions.

In presenting the award to VitaSound, Tom Cor, PhD, president and CEO of OCE, said, “I’m pleased we were able to bring McMaster University and VitaSound together and watch this partnership blossom quickly into a successful and collaborative business venture.”