Hearing & Balance Doctors

Technology Update: Lithium-Ion Batteries in Hearing Aids

Technology changes rapidly in our modern world. From robot vacuum cleaners like the Roomba to Amazon’s voice-activated personal assistant named Alexa, technology is part of our everyday lives more than ever before.

Hearing aid technology is no exception.

With six major manufacturers of hearing aids worldwide, each with multiple models of hearing aids, new technology is introduced regularly.

Hearing aids get better and better with each passing year, and each hearing aid company competes to be the most innovative.

In the last couple of years, two innovations in hearing aid technology have stood out: the ability to connect directly to smartphones and rechargeable batteries.

Connectivity

Smartphone connectivity began when a hearing aid company called ReSound launched a hearing aid in 2014 called the LiNX.

The LiNX could pair directly to the iPhone, allowing phone calls, movies, and any audio to be streamed directly to the listener’s hearing aids (more than 2 years before Apple would launch their AirPods).

Soon after the LiNX launch, another hearing aid company, Starkey, would launch a similar product called the Halo.

Other companies have followed suit, launching their own made-for-iPhone hearing aids, with Oticon notably launching a product called the OPN in 2016.

Rechargeability

Rechargeable batteries have also been a current trend in hearing aids.

ReSound launched the first rechargeable hearing aid system in 2009. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great product. The charger was difficult to use, and batteries would often only last for part of a day.

Other hearing aid companies tried their own versions of rechargeable batteries with Siemens having the most success. However, inconsistency in battery life and problems with the charging systems continued.

Two years ago, a hearing aid company called Phonak released the first hearing aid to use a lithium-ion battery. Lithium-ion batteries are commonly used in cell phones and laptop computers.

They charge quickly and hold a long-lasting charge. Phonak’s battery system was a success, but unfortunately the hearing aid was not able to stream directly to iPhones.

A New Type of Battery

At the beginning of September 2018, the first hearing aid powered by a lithium-ion battery that also can stream to iPhones was released: the ReSound LiNX Quattro.

The Quattro charges easily using an induction method (meaning it charges by simply resting it in a case – there are no ports to plug in) and it will hold a charge for well over 30 hours.

Even when streaming audio from a phone, the charge will easily last over 20 hours. Additionally, Google announced that the Quattro will soon be made backwards compatible to work with Android phones, making it the first hearing aid that will be able to stream audio to both Apple and Android products.

Impressively, the Quattro also received the highest rating for water-resistance (an IP rating of 8 making it essentially waterproof) and has an extremely sophisticated sound processor. A sophisticated sound processor means better sound quality, — especially in background noise — excellent feedback management, and best-in-the-industry music quality.

I was recently able to attend a seminar in Austin, Texas to learn more about the Quattro. I am very optimistic and excited to try this new technology with our patients. In fact, we fitted a patient with our first set of Quattro hearing aids last week.

We are passionate about staying current with all new technologies and using our knowledge to help our patients hear their best.

Our doctors of audiology offer free consultations and personalized treatment plans.

If you or a loved one is interested in trying the Quattro, or if you are simply interested in discussing other technologies, please give us a call today at (435) 688-8991

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Dr. Ryan Whitaker

Dr. Whitaker joined Hearing & Balance Doctors of Utah in 2009. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Brigham Young University in 2005 with his Bachelors of Science in Audiology and Speech Pathology. He then received his Doctor of Audiology from the University of Arizona where he minored in Cognitive Neuroscience (the study of how people perceive sound). While at the University of Arizona, he specialized in evoked potentials, specifically researching Cortical Auditory Evoked Potentials and the Acoustic Change Complex. He gained clinical experience at Tucson Ear, Nose, and Throat; St. Joseph’s Hospital Balance Center; Arizona Hearing Specialists; and the Center for Hearing Impaired Children. Dr. Whitaker was raised in Orem, Utah with three older sisters and a younger brother (who is also an audiologist). His grandfather was a cartoonist for the Walt Disney Studios where he drew Donald Duck and many characters in Peter Pan, Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland before starting the BYU Motion Picture Studio. Dr. Whitaker is married and has three sons. He is passionate about college football and also enjoys hiking in Southern Utah, reading, and traveling. He has traveled extensively through South Asia including Thailand, India, Nepal, and a church mission to the Philippines.

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