August 7, 2014. Ultralow-power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor ASA today announced that one of the world's largest hearing-aid developers and manufacturers, Danish specialist GN ReSound, has specified Nordic nRF51822 systems-on-chip (SoCs) to provide the Bluetooth Smart (formerly known as Bluetooth low energy) wireless connectivity in the what GN ReSound claims is the world's most advanced and compact hearing aid that can address 90% of all hearing losses.
Technically described as a fully-integrated wireless “Receiver-in-the-Ear,” the ReSound LiNX hearing aid can receive high-quality stereo audio direct from iOS devices such as an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, without the need for any other intermediary (typically pendant-like) remote or accessory, which according to GN ReSound is a common drawback of traditional hearing aid designs.
Users can also customize their hearing experience via the accompanying ReSound Smart app that can be used, for instance, to set preferred volume levels as well as treble and bass tone settings to produce the optimum preferred audio reproduction and enhancement for each individual end user, given that no two human ears (and brains) ever quite respond to audio stimulus in exactly the same way.
The devices also allow users to “geo-tag” select locations to assign and adjust the acoustics of frequently visited places like the user's home, workplace, or favorite restaurants. The app also features a “Find My Hearing Aid” function to help users pinpoint their hearing aid if misplaced.
“An individual's hearing doesn't typically fail completely or suddenly,” commented GN ReSound VP of brand management Ditlev Friis. “It will tend to deteriorate over time in one or both ears in a very subjective way because of the unique manner in which each person's hearing and mind work. The problem is that negative perceptions surrounding traditional hearing aid products have unfortunately resulted in most people putting off buying a hearing aid for up to seven years after they would benefit.”
Friis added, “The ReSound LiNX is designed to change all that by offering class-leading natural-sounding audio reproduction and real quality-of-life improvements to the hearing impaired in a discrete and miniaturized product form-factor that they will find a joy to use and not be embarrassed to own. That was our stated mission from day one, and that is what we feel we have achieved in the ReSound LiNX, which we consider to be a triumph in accessibility and acceptability for the hearing impaired.”
ReSound LiNX hearing aids run off the second-to-smallest standard hearing aid battery size called a 312 (7.9-mm diameter, 3.6-mm tall, typical battery capacity 160 mAh), and employs a Nordic nRF51822 in its smallest wafer-level chip-scale package (WLCSP) option (3.5 x 3.8 mm). All this helps achieve an end-product form-factor for the LiNX hearing aid that is not much larger than an adult thumb nail.
“Populations are aging all over the developed world and unfortunately that means hearing impairment will become a fact of life for hundreds of millions of people,” commented Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor's director of sales and marketing. “What GN ReSound has demonstrated is that by taking a fresh look at an old problem using the convenience and power of modern portable devices and apps allied with capabilities of Bluetooth Smart wireless technology, new solutions can be developed that far exceed what was possible even a few years ago, and that can genuinely improve the quality of life for millions of people.”