This week, Dave Kemp is joined by audiologist Lena Kyman, AuD, and her father Jack Kyman – who wears both a hearing aid and a cochlear implant – to discuss the benefits of remote microphone technology.
During the discussion, Jack talks about his initial reluctance to use the Roger remote microphone system, but says he is now able to use it seamlessly with both his hearing devices easily and that it helps him hear substantially better in background noise compared to using his hearing technology alone without it.
Dave Kemp 0:10
All right, everybody and welcome to another episode of This Week in Hearing. Today, I’m very honored to be joined by Lena and Jack Kyman. Lena is a sales audiology manager at Phonak. been there a few years I know, but has been a clinical audiologist for a number of years now. And she wanted to bring on her dad for this conversation to talk about sort of the way in which he’s been using his hearing aids and the Roger system. I think this is a underappreciated aspect of hearing aid technology and some of the different ways you can outfit hearing aids with accessories. And so I thought this would make for a great conversation today to have Lena kind of share her own journey of how she’s come to embrace the Roger system, and then talk through with her dad, how he uses it and the value that he gets. So, Lena, I’ll pass it off to you. And if you want to just kind of kick off and share maybe the way in which your journey has gone with Roger.
Lena Kyman 1:14
Awesome. Thanks for having us, Dave. Um, so yeah, I love Roger. I’m passionate about it. I shout about it all the time. But it hasn’t always been that way, as you and I have talked about before. So when I was a clinician, working in a private practice, seeing a lot of patients fitting a lot of hearing aids, I really kind of shied away from Roger, I was intimidated by the technology. To me, it seemed like extra and complicated, and I didn’t know how to talk about it, it wasn’t clear to me that it was different from just a regular remote microphone or accessory. And I, to be honest, I kind of wanted nothing to do with it as a clinician. Fast forward to when I started working for Phonak. As a clinical trainer, it was obviously time to really like pull up our sleeves dive into this technology. And it turns out, it’s really not that complicated. Once you just kind of embrace it, it’s really easy to use both as a clinician, it’s easy to fit as a patient, it’s easy to use. And I’ve really had the benefit of getting to watch my dad along his journey with Roger. So Dad, you can speak more to it. But your hearing loss journey is somewhat unique in that you were both a hearing aid and a cochlear implant. So different types of technology, which makes any type of streaming a little bit more complicated. So streaming from a phone or a computer, because you have two different manufacturers, two different types of technology. There’s an extra layer there. And Roger is really what bridges that gap. And so I think getting to see you on your journey and getting to see some of the patients that I was able to assist with as a trainer talking about Roger, it’s been this eye opening kind of magical technology that it’s like, why isn’t everybody wearing this? Why is it Why aren’t more people talking about this? Because it’s one thing to say, Oh, yes, Roger helps you hear 61% better and group conversations. But yeah, that’s an impressive number. But until you hear it until you see someone else experiencing it, it’s really hard to convey that.
Dave Kemp 3:43
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more with that. And I want to kick it over to Jack now. So Jack, why don’t you share what that initial experience with Roger was like, like, were you a fan from the first first blush? Or did it take some time to get acclimated to it?
Jack Kyman 3:59
Well, I think it took a little bit of time to get acclimated and what it could do and what it couldn’t do. You know, it’s it’s so much more than just a microphone that goes to my ears. I mean, it’s still I feel it, it filters out background noise, it doesn’t. It doesn’t amplify everything where I’m sitting in a restaurant going ‘God it’s loud in here’ and I can hear the tinkling of the silverware and the glasses over there and the eyes over here. This guy’s pulling the chair out. And I’m just trying to understand the person right across from me and Rogers zeroes in on that so that it’s much more selective in what what goes to my ears. So in a group setting sitting around a table with different people, I can almost hear each one of them equally well separately. It It really is amazing to me that it works as well as it does I mean, especially a group setting eight people out to dinner, it that used to be like a nightmare for me because not only couldn’t I understand this conversation, I couldn’t understand any of the conversations because I’m getting bits and pieces of all of them. And Roger seems to like focus in on, on the hearing I want to hear and amplifies that stuff. It has a few little quirks though. You know, I’ll go from one room to another, and the distance will be too great for Roger to amplify that. And I you know, you get these little tone dee, dee, dee, dee, and that means Rogers looking for the sound to amplify. But it gets to be a little bit annoying, because it’s not going to stop until I get back in the range of Roger. And then it works fine again, but the way we have our TV set up. Occasionally, when we turn things off, everything doesn’t go off at the same time. So the TV will go off, the tuner will go off, but Roger is still sending me video from the last TV show I watched, even though nothing else is on. It’s like, where’s this noise coming from?
Lena Kyman 6:35
You do have a really complicated TV setup though.
Jack Kyman 6:39
Yeah, we have a really complicated TV setup. It just, it doesn’t. I don’t know why it’s the way it is. But anyway, but Roger has basically seamlessly gotten into the mix, and it definitely makes watching TV show much more enjoyable. I can personally adjust my volume without adjusting the room volume. So so that that is really helpful. That is really helpful.
Dave Kemp 7:12
So can you share what Roger accessories you’re using? It sounds like you have the TV adapter. Do you carry one with you all the time as you’re like the multi mic or what’s the day in your life? Like which one are you pairing to individual Roger units? Or is it just one one device that you’re tethering into every single time?
Jack Kyman 7:38
No, it’s actually I have two devices I have a Roger select and the Roger Pen okay um I tend to use the Select with the TV doc and I use the pen for the computer and out most outdoors situations not equal everybody equally is good. I think in outdoor situations the pan might be a little bit more selective because I can I could use it as a directional microphone by putting it in front of somebody and that seems to work better to show it for me it’s it’s extremely helpful you know, going on a trip you got to do Do you there’s more batteries or more connectors, there’s more chargers, you know, everything has its accompanying time technology to go with it. So it’s still I’m still working all that out but in general I’m using it a lot more you know, when I first started I kind of was a little reluctant and oh god more technology. Just don’t ask me a password please. So, but as you know, as I get less cranky and more accepting of the technology, I find that it works very well. I mean the problem isn’t the Roger The problem is me.
Lena Kyman 9:16
Well, and I think I remember like when it shifted like I was telling you about this technology and you were like nope, not interested. I don’t want anymore. I don’t think I need it I can get by I do okay and I think it’s this again you know hearing loss is invisible and it’s hard to understand a tangible benefit because your hearing aid and implant they really do help you a lot I mean, the the technology you wear in your ears is such incredible technology. So it’s but it’s not about oh well. I can get by you know I’m doing okay, where’s like once I kind of encouraged you enough aka forced you to start using it, then it was like, I think I remember you saying Why would I choose to hear less? So it was kind of this shift. You didn’t want it, you didn’t think you needed it because you were doing okay. But then once you got a taste of how much better it can be, now you’re back to being the life of the party. And for better for worse, making more jokes when we’re out.
Jack Kyman 10:24
But it death, there’s no question. It definitely helps me participate in social settings. You know, I used to shy away from them, because I was always the guy that’s, you know, “what? I didn’t hear you. Could you speak up?” “What?” You know, I hate being that guy. And consequently, to avoid being that guy, you just kind of drift back. And next thing, you know, you’re out of the conversation and, you know, trying to move on to try and fit into another one. But but with Roger, it’s, it’s, you know, the technology really works. And it really is helpful in group settings. I mean, there’s no question about it, it’s helpful.
Dave Kemp 11:11
So when you’re in like a, like a cocktail party, or you’re at a dinner party, you so you’re carrying the pen with you? And if you’re like walking around, do you kind of keep that on your person? Or are you actually holding it in your hand and like, aiming it at the people that you’re talking to? How does that actually work in in? In practice,
Jack Kyman 11:31
I usually have it in my hand so that I can direction it if I need to, but sometimes that just were around my neck. Okay. If we’re in the car, oftentimes, I’ll have my wife’s were around her neck, so I can hear her better. Yeah, all the engine noise that makes it really, it’s really helpful in that situation.
Dave Kemp 11:59
That’s really interesting. Okay, so Lena, I guess to put your clinician hat back on, when you’re talking to other providers, what are the red flags they should be looking for that would indicate this might be a really good candidate for Roger.
Lena Kyman 12:15
Anybody who wants to hear better? I mean, like, I really had this shift where, you know, and they’ve done studies like, so let me back up in the beginning, when I was intimidated abroad, or in my mind, it was just for like, severe to profound hearing losses, or kids in school. And only those two categories were is when you actually look at the insights and the data, the majority of people who use Roger have a moderate degree of hearing loss or less. So it’s not about severity on the audiogram. And once you reach a certain criteria, then you should talk about Roger. Ultimately, anybody who needs to hear better in noise or over distance can benefit from Roger and I think the demo is the most important thing, because again, it’s hard to convey. Yes, I can tell you, you can hear X percentage better X amount better, but until you actually, I was gonna say see it until you hear it, you know, like really hearing is believing with it. So for me, I really when I was a trainer, you know, visiting different hearing care professionals all along the southeast and mid Atlantic, I really focused on demoing Roger myself to these people so they could hear it, and then encouraging them to demo Roger with their patients. And just having one in the office you know, it’s so much easier now than it used to be to connect it to a hearing aid there’s no more like boots and shoes and cables and pairing and all of these things, it’s so much easier with Roger direct, that you really can incorporate it into a regular procedure where you’re demonstrating this technology.
Dave Kemp 14:02
That’s very interesting to Jack How do you pair these especially if you’re using the pen and the stationary you know one that you’re the select for your like your TV or your computer? How are you toggling between these is it pretty easy?
Jack Kyman 14:19
Oh super easy. All you have to do is find the pairing button and put it up against it on both sides you hear the tone and boom you’re in and if I want to change to the other one I just pair it with the other one. I mean it’s that has been I was in the beginning I was kind of intimidated about that. Oh I have to pair it every single time I mean it’s easy as pie really I mean there’s there’s
Lena Kyman 14:45
if he can do it anyone can do it.
Jack Kyman 14:47
That’s true. That’s true.
Dave Kemp 14:50
In this is all a byproduct of the Roger direct with the SWORD chip right so like pretty much the newer models, dating back a few years and on all have this Record integration in the actual hearing aid itself.
Lena Kyman 15:03
Yeah, so he has the digital receiver inside of his hearing aid on his implant. He has an actual physical Roger receiver that’s there. Okay. connected to it, it lives there. And he still just pairs it with one button.
Dave Kemp 15:19
Gotcha. And is there any weird like, like latency issues between the hearing aid and the cochlear implant? Or is it all pretty bimodal? It’s, it’s consistent?
Jack Kyman 15:32
very consistent, very consistent. I’ve never had the problem of, you know, what’s going on here? I can, you know, I know, it’s, it’s smooth.
Dave Kemp 15:43
And I know, Lina, you had mentioned before that, like, you guys will go and you’ll hike and you’ll be like, you know, in the outdoors. And it sounds like that’s probably similar to the, to the use case that your dad just described, about, you know, his wife in the car, and she wears this, I mean, that’s an, that’s a really interesting aspect to this is, because I’m thinking about, you know, in a school, you could have the teacher, you know, wear this or lecture, you know, whatever, in the boardroom, putting this, you know, somewhere where it’s close to the speaker. So, I mean, is that kind of was that another aha moment that you had of, of how this all can kind of work in terms of placing the receivers on an individual that you’re going to be conversing with for a extended period of time.
Lena Kyman 16:30
It has definitely come in handy when we go rock climbing together. And either he’s bullying me or I’m bullying him, and I’ll have it around my neck. So that way, if he’s up on the wall, and I’m blaming him, I can say, hey, there’s a left foot right there, just raise your foot, or your you can you’re super close for maybe something that he can’t see. And same thing, you know, if I’m up on the wall, and he’s bullying me, I can say, Hold on, I’m tired. I need a break. You know, or an energy? I can talk to him? It’s, it’s come in handy in that way. For sure.
Jack Kyman 17:07
Oh, that that communication is? I couldn’t we couldn’t have it without Roger. Right. You know, if I’m 30 feet up on the wall, I wouldn’t be able to hear what you were saying. Why what? You know, I can just imagine how frustrating it would be. But when you’ve got the Roger on, or I’ve got the Roger on and you’ve got the mic, or? I mean, it’s like you’re whispering in my ear. I mean, it’s yeah, it’s very good.
Dave Kemp 17:37
Yeah, I think that’s so neat. I just, this is a really interesting way to sort of accessorize hearing aids. And, you know, as I mentioned, at the top, it seems like it’s something that is flying, it’s flown under the radar for a period of time, I think that maybe it does feel a little bit like daunting, but I think that as you two discussed today, it’s like, there’s a lot of value here and how you can get a lot more out of your hearing aids and cochlear implants. So like, I guess the closing question to you Jack would be, I mean, how significant has this been versus the period of time prior to being introduced to Roger like, has this has this changed you know, the perception that you have even of like, the amplification that you’re already using? Because this is like, using that on steroids now basically
Jack Kyman 18:26
Exactly. I mean, it goes from, it’s hard to explain it goes from kind of sorta helpful to crystal clear, helpful.
Dave Kemp 18:37
Jack Kyman 18:38
I mean, it’s, it’s a big jump, it’s a big jump with Roger without Roger, it’s, it’s so much more distinct and clear. Without ust jacking up the volume, you know, I can, you know, I can tell the difference between a /t/ and a /p/. And that, you know, is a big difference when you’re when you have hearing loss, you know, you you understand so much better instead of just guessing what the person was saying.
Lena Kyman 19:09
I think there’s this kind of misconception that I was absolutely guilty of that. Roger is like a last resort. It’s like you try hearing aids, you turn up the volume, you fine tune, you add manual programs, you adjust with the app. And once you get to a point where you’re still struggling in these really difficult environments, then you think of Roger as a last resort, whereas really, it’s part of a hearing system. It’s not like Rogers there for when the hearing aids aren’t good enough. It’s this is the ultimate pairing for these specific listening environments where it’s noisy, or you’re in a group or there’s a distance and you’re rock climbing, or hiking or in the car. You know, when you think about it as this like cohesive system. It’s your hearing system. not like, oh, a last resort because this wasn’t good enough. I think for me, that’s been the shift of this is the best case scenario for your hearing.
Dave Kemp 20:10
Very well said.
Jack Kyman 20:11
One of the funny things that I noticed with Roger is, you know, I’ll have Roger on the table, and we’ll go out and I’ll go to the restroom or something. And now my restroom, I’m still here and all the conversation table. They don’t know I can still hear them. If they’re talking about me, I’m gonna find out
Dave Kemp 20:29
It’s a little bit of like a superpower in that sense. You can hear through walls.
Jack Kyman 20:35
It is really.
Dave Kemp 20:37
kYeah. Well, this has been really enlightening. I love that you brought your dad on here because I think that this personally for me, this has really resonated to hear a firsthand experience. And I think it’s cool Lena to hear kind of like, the way that your thought process around this is kind of matured, as you’ve gotten more first hand experience. So I just think this is a great option for all professionals to be thinking about our, you know, these remote microphone systems that can be tethered into these, you know, seemingly like just more and more connected devices that we’re using. So and it’s really great to hear, Jack that this was something that it doesn’t feel overwhelming, or, you know, like it’s interferes with your day too much. It’s pretty easy to pair it and use it and it sounds like a pretty seamless experience.
Jack Kyman 21:25
Yeah, very easy. If I could get the hang of it. Anybody could get the hang of it. Really
Dave Kemp 21:30
Fantastic. Well, thank you two, so much. And thanks for everybody tuning in here. We’ll chat with you next time.
Jack Kyman 21:36
Okay, thank you
Lena Kyman 21:37
About the Panel
Lena Kyman the Audiology Training Excellence Manager at Phonak. Prior to her current role, she was a Phonak Clinical Trainer, an Adjunct Assistant Professor, and a private practice audiologist. She received her AuD from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and her BS from the University of Arizona.
Dave Kemp is the Director of Business Development & Marketing at Oaktree Products and the Founder & Editor of Future Ear. In 2017, Dave launched his blog, FutureEar.co, where he writes about what’s happening at the intersection of voice technology, wearables and hearing healthcare. In 2019, Dave started the Future Ear Radio podcast, where he and his guests discuss emerging technology pertaining to hearing aids and consumer hearables. He has been published in the Harvard Business Review, co-authored the book, “Voice Technology in Healthcare,” writes frequently for the prominent voice technology website, Voicebot.ai, and has been featured on NPR’s Marketplace.