Report by Monika Baumann and Susanna Løve Callaway.
‘Securing the Future and Intelligent Listening’ was the focus of the 64th International Congress of Hearing Acousticians, held in Hannover from 16-18 October 2019. More than 8000 delegates from 99 countries took part.
Extending the digitisation in hearing technology within connectivity and the use of artificial intelligence within machine learning to give the hearing aid users an extended dimension for individualisation of listening experience, conditions and possibilities to utmost best participate in our interactive world seems to be the theme of the next decade. Combining health care for an aging generation by providing hearing technology on a new level will be the future started from now. For hearing aid acousticians and manufacturers of hearing systems a transition into a new business?
- Keynote speaker for opening session: futurologist Kai Gondlach sketching human’s technology journey for the next decade
- EUHA Sponsorship Award: EUHA Vice President; Eva Keil-Becker, presented the award to Christoph Neumann and Lennart Bandick
- Professor Dr Karin Schorn presented the Research Award of the Research Association of German Hearing Aid Acousticians (FDHA) to Dr Hendrik Husstedt
Those who did not manage to attend the congress, or wish to recap in peace and quiet what they heard, will soon be able to watch all presentations online at www.euha.tv.
Report by Susanna Løve Callaway, Director of Clinical Audiology, Oticon A/S
This year, I had the pleasure of visiting the annual EUHA conference for the very first time. In the past, many colleagues of mine within the Demant organisation have gone and shared their experiences about new advances in hearing health care and I looked forward to exploring the halls with over 140 exhibitors for myself. The exhibit halls were comfortable and for the most part not too crowded, with a lot of natural light. I might have a few suggestions to improve the food offering for lunch. I was, however, able to get great coffee at Bernafon and several other exhibitors!
Overall, the atmosphere was pleasant and talking to individual exhibitors allowed me to dig deeper into the specific products. I spoke at length to fellow professionals at Widex, Hörzentrum Oldenburg, Lenire, Phonak, and Signia and I sat and listened to a lecture at the Resound booth to learn about remote care options and marketing strategies from a psychological perspective. Our own stand, Oticon, was well-visited and included product presentations and a book signing with the author of Ganz Ohr, Thomas Sünder.
There were interesting live demonstrations / shows of Phonak Marvel, Signia Xperience, and Starkey Livio AI and as a fellow hearing aid manufacturer, it is always fascinating to study the wording, marketing strategies, and message prioritisation of competitors. I noticed an overall exhibit design trend of simple, but aesthetically pleasing design and short powerful messaging. It also occurred to me that the focus overall was not as much on audiological innovations, as it was on connectivity, new form factors, digitalisation, machine learning, sensor technology, and small, easy-to-use accessories.
Overall, it was an interesting and inspiring experience that gave me new ideas to take home into my own everyday work.
Report by Monika Baumann, Manager for Post-market Clinical Follow-up, Oticon A/S
On Wednesday 16 of October the doors of Nuremberg Convention Centre, Germany, opened for the 64th International Congress of Hearing Aid Acousticians 2019. An impressive trade show with more than 154 exhibiting companies from 21 countries, 22 lectures and six tutorials, presenting current knowledge from the field of audiology, research, hearing technology and medicine welcomed 8000 delegates from 80 countries in the world.
When I arrived at EUHA in Nuremberg it felt like coming home. As a German Hörakustiker (hearing-aid acoustician) from education, I have attended numerous EUHA conferences and always enjoyed when it returned to Nuremberg. Entering the conference centre, I met with friends in the waiting line and later, in the exhibition hall, there was a warm welcome on the first morning from Phonak and Hansaton at the entrance of hall 3A, offering an arrival snack with white sausages and pretzels. This immediately made their booths busy. A first tour through both exhibition halls left me with the impression of being invited to a fascinating multi-media world of hearing technology.
EUHA President, Beate Gromke opened the conference at lunchtime by citing Aristoteles with the words "The Whole is greater than the sum of its parts". This was to highlight that it is the first time EUHA is providing a tool for networking with speakers after their respective lectures to share their expertise. EUHA also provides a programme of lectures, tutorials, and the Future Friday sessions, in parallel to exhibitors showcasing the latest innovations in hearing aid technology, fitting systems, and diagnostics.
EUHA has for many years been offering an educational programme in parallel to the exhibition and the lectures of the conference. It is held in form of 90-minute tutorials assigned to specific topics on Thursday and Friday. This year, six topics were covered in the German language.
The first tutorial discussed the question, ‘how does psychoacoustics affect the subjective loudness determination of sound by the hearing aid user and how could this be used to optimise the individual fitting?’, while the second tutorial focused on cochlear implantation (CI) and how the acoustician could be involved in fitting and ongoing support in the future. The third tutorial focused on two alternatives to standard speech testing that could be used to predict auditory deprivation and user acceptance of amplified sound in noisy listening conditions. The Acceptable Noise Level (ANL) test and the signal to noise ratio (SNR) test using the Aalenener sentences have been demonstrated as tools to predict acceptance and optimise hearing aid settings. The Thursday educational programme was finalised by a tutorial investigating and demonstrating the use of smart phone applications and to what extent they can affect the individual hearing aid settings. A live demonstration of how to verify smart phone control of hearing aids was included.
On Friday morning, a session was held about hyperacusis, its symptoms, origin, facets, comorbidities, and the quantification and differentiation of types, in order to help the acousticians motivate the patients towards more sound exposure. Finally, a tutorial on audio therapy was offered. Audio therapy should be applied to help the hearing impaired in regaining listening and communication competency after years of deprivation from sound. The advice and guidance on how to listen again and accept amplified sounds is a central task of the acoustician in the provision of hearing aids. The EUHA guideline, ‘Audio therapy in audiology’ was presented and its implementation discussed.
All tutorials focused on knowledge and guidance related to everyday challenges in the audiology practice with practical examples, useful tools, and discussion. The motivation of the participants to apply and put the new gained possibilities into practice was noticeably high when they were asked afterwards.
Key themes at the trade exhibition included extending made-for-iPhone connectivity to Android as well as rechargeability of hearing aids to more styles and price points. Furthermore, sensor technology is moving into hearing aids and artificial intelligence can start to provide cloud-based machine learning for hearing aid user programmes – both still in early days of development.
Signia by WSAudiology introduced the Signia Xperience product having an integrated acoustic motion sensor to register changing acoustic scenes when moving and then adapting the directionality and noise reduction of the hearing aid to follow the acoustic changes.
Phonak announced more than 1,000000 Marvel hearing aids sold by now and introducing Marvel to their Bolero and Sky series. Roger Direct streaming to Marvel, new app features and their Bluetooth classic connectivity to Android and iPhone tighten this year’s innovations up.
Oticon presented their new and most powerful hearing aid family in the market Xceed for adults and Xceed Play for children introducing their feedback breaker technology OpenSound Optimizer to the power segment. Oticon’s product portfolio is also extended with a wireless CROS version based on TwinLink™ dual-streaming allowing NFMI-wireless CROS transmission at the same time with 2.4 GHz connectivity.
Widex by WSAudiology presented the BTE 13 D for their Evoke family using MEMS microphones, their SoundSense App applying cloud-based machine learning for user programme settings now integrated with Compass fitting software to give the audiologist access to the cloud and read programme setting changed by machine learning.
ReSound continued their story of connectivity by leading the development of ASHA – an Android streaming protocol – together with Google and introducing the first wireless CIC in LINX Quattro.
Starkey announced to launch on November 1, an app using the Android ASHA streaming protocol in Google Play. To combine health monitoring technology with hearing aids they use sensors for body and brain tracking and fall detection.
Besides the six major manufacturers and their second brands, I could get news at several labs producing custom made shell and earmolds, enjoy demonstrations of new diagnostic and verification technology at Interacoustics, Diatec, Auditdata and even smaller companies like Auritec. Everybody welcomed me and had news to tell – even though the pace of development is slower in their area.
Overall, a visit to EUHA is very worthwhile from several points of view – meeting friends and colleagues, collecting news, learning about new audiology topics and expanding knowledge from lectures and tutorials – the sum of the parts makes the whole greater!