Unitron market’s their new range as ‘MOVE BEYOND WORDS’, what is the reason behind that? Let us have a look…
Communication is about more than just words, it’s about the deeper meaning in conversations. Missing out on hearing some words and sounds are not the only consequence of a hearing loss. Individuals with hearing loss often do not realize that they are missing out on more than just words or sounds.
Sounds: Audibility is the awareness of sounds
Words: Intelligibility is the understanding of words
Meaning: Both audibility and intelligibility are fundamental to hearing and understanding, but going beyond this to understand the deeper meaning of a conversation. Unitron Discover Next gives you the subtle nuances of speech that gives words deeper meaning…
Let’s look at an analogy…
Consider the example of receiving a text message. If you hear the little notification signal or see that you have an incoming message, you have an awareness that the message exists, but that is all you see at that point. If the message were to appear with the words only, absent punctuation or any other context, you would be able to see the words. But would you really get the meaning? No, not really.
It’s not just WHAT you say, it’s HOW you say it that counts.
Additional information beyond the words alone provides that deeper meaning. This includes knowing who the message is from. Just this alone gives important context to really understand the message, but the addition of capitalization and punctuation and finally the emoji lets you know a lot more about the intention of the text. So having the alert on your smartphone, is like getting audibility that gives you sounds. Seeing the words of the text message, is like intelligibility to understand the words. But seeing who the text is from and how they are saying it and with what emotion adds the deeper meaning to the words.
Let’s take a closer look at meaning and what things contribute to it.
All of these aspects of meaning are conveyed by the subtle nuances of speech. So being able to hear these subtle cues is crucial to getting the deeper meaning in conversations.
The first thing that is important is knowing WHO is speaking.
The second part, which is related to the first, is WHERE the speech is coming from, which helps you to determine who is talking.
INTONATION is the third element that allows you to know more information about how someone wants you to take the words they are saying.
And of course, the EMOTION is critical to really getting to the deeper meaning of what’s said.
WHO and WHERE
Particularly in more complex environments, knowing where someone is obviously contributes to knowing who is speaking and understanding the intention of what is being said. So beyond just looking at someone, what auditory cues do our brains use to identify the “who”? As we saw in the text messaging example, being aware of and even understanding the words in a message does not convey the full meaning. Getting the point goes beyond just understanding the words. And grasping that deeper meaning is required to RESPOND appropriately.
Most of us can probably think of an experience when we got the message, but missed the point. If you misinterpret the underlying meaning, even when you have all the words, your reaction and response can be silly or awkward, at best, and even insensitive or offensive. The same is true of verbal communication.
It’s not just WHAT you say, but HOW you say it that counts. It’s also important to clearly hear the intonation, to know if someone is making a statement or asking a question.
Finally, it’s very important to hear the emotion in the words. People with hearing loss struggle to hear the emotion in the speech. It is interesting how the ‘emoji’ world has developed. Here is just a tiny sample, but in your phone you will find hundreds of emojis. Why? Well, so much communication is happening via these non-verbal electronic methods that people need a way to convey the deeper meaning of ‘how’ they are saying what they are saying in text format. This explosion of emojis actually illustrates just how important emotional nuances are to understanding intended meaning.
How is MEANING achieved? The features behind ‘moving beyond the words’
As mentioned above, hearing is more than just sounds and words, it is understanding who is speaking, where they’re speaking from, and being able to use the intonation and emotion behind the words to understand their meaning.
To get to the meaning of the sounds and words people say, Discover Next introduced 2 new features to give wearers more access to the meaning behind the words – Soft Speech Lift for hearing soft speech in quiet situations, and Spectral Speech for hearing speech in challenging environments.
These 2 new features are part of SoundCore, the signal processing engine inside Discover Next.
SoundCore comprises a group of 4 features (SoundNav 3.0, SoundConductor, SpeechPro and SpatialAwareness) that synchronizes to analyze the listening environment and automatically make adjustments for the wearer. Soft Speech Lift and Spectral Speech works as part of SoundCore to capture the subtle nuances of speech – in other words, these new features work automatically as part of the hearing aid processing so there is less fiddling around with on-board controls or a Smartphone app.
The first step in signal processing in a hearing device is accurate classification of the listening environment using SoundNav 3.0. This is achieved through artificial intelligence and machine learning, SoundNav 3.0 has a seven-environment architecture to select from. This is important as listening needs differ depending on the situation, and no two situations are ever exactly alike. However, listening situations does not always fit clearly into a distinct environment classification, SoundNav 3.0 assissts with this. It is able to select the appropriate environment or a blend of environments, allowing for 3712 possible unique blended environments. Accurate classification is essential in enabling the best hearing aid features for that particular environment.
SoundNav 3.0 identifies the environment after which the other 3 SoundCore features are applied as necessary:
Sound Conductor looks at the levels of speech enhancement and noise reduction required. It uses the information from SoundNav 3.0 to work on making speech clear, reducing noise and improving the overall sound quality and comfort. Speech enhancement is applied to increase the volume of voices. Noise reduction makes listening more comfortable by decreasing the volume of distracting sounds in noise. Sound Conductor now includes Soft Speech Lift, which adds a boost to people speaking softly in quiet environments. Soft Speech Lift focuses on improving the subtle nuances of speech by working on soft sounds (less than 55 dB), which can include women’s or children’s softer voices and whispers. Most importantly, as quiet environments are completely devoid of all noise, Soft Speech Lift focuses on increasing the speech signal only, without elevating the additional soft environment sounds such as the fridge humming, the click of keys on a keyboard etc.
Spatial Awareness preserves the natural localization cues that are typically lost when hearing aids are placed behind the ears and assists with accurate perception of where sounds are in space (crucial for identifying the who and where behind the meaning).
SpeechPro is the last element of SoundCore. With the help of Spatial Awareness, Speech Pro helps the user to understand speech and determine the direction it is coming from in difficult environments. Speech Focus, Spatial Speech and Spectral Speech are collectively utilized, to help wearers hear in noisier environments. Spectral Speech boosts speech sounds to provide extra contrast between speech and noise in all directions.
SoundCore is a highly intelligent signal processing system that is available in the Discover Next platform. Its 4 features work together to help people hear conversations more clearly, comfortably and more naturally in all environments.
Designs in the Discover Next Platform
Unitron introduced Lithium-ion rechargeability in their previous Discover platform in the guise of Discover Jump R. It was however a relatively big instrument comparing to others in the market. Discover Next introduces Moxi Move R, a more cosmetically appealing rechargeable hearing aid that is more similar in size to what other manufacturers have available for rechargeable hearing aids. Similar to other Lithium-Ion rechargeable hearing aids, Moxi Move R takes 3 hours to fully charge (from a completely drained state) and offers up to 24 hours continual use (depending on amount of streaming).
All current products in the Discover Next range use the SWORD 3.0 chip, which supports direct connectivity to Smartphones and Unitron accessories.
Discover Next offers hands-free streaming of phone calls via your Smartphone. The hearing aid microphones are used to pick up your voice on a phone call, and hearing aid controls can be used to answer, reject and hang up a phone call. When streaming audio, the hearing aid will also classify whether you’re listening music or speech when streaming and adjust automatically to optimize your listening experience.
Unitron’s range of accessories for the Discover Next is as follows:
TV Connector – for streaming audio from the television / computer / any other audio device with a headphone jack- port direct to your hearing aids;
PartnerMic – a remote microphone that offers a 25 metre transmission range;
RemoteControl – a remote control if you prefer not using the app or hearing aid controls but still want control over volume and program settings;
Roger – an FM system for extra assistance in hearing in all challenging situations.
Remote Plus Smartphone Application
The Remote Plus App is available as a free download on the App Store or Play Store, it allows you to adjust your hearing aid volume and change programs using your Smartphone.
Additional features of this app includes:
how-to videos for troubleshooting
adjusting the balance between audio streaming volume and environmental sounds
adjusting the tinnitus masker levels – if it had been set up as such
submit ratings on your hearing aid experience to your hearing care professional
It also includes a 3-band equalizer, allowing you to adjust bass, mid and treble sounds
Did you know? You can also now upgrade your Unitron hearing aid technology level without replacing your hearing aid!! Contact us to find out more!
**Disclaimer: The content of any product related posts such as the above or any other #ProductWednesday posts are the interpretation of the audiologist. No financial benefit arises from these posts. By placing these posts, the audiologist to not necessarily ‘endorse’ the product, but merely highlights some features of the specific product. The audiologist is also not limited to the supply and maintenance of the mentioned product, and is completely independent and makes use of, and are trained in all hearing aid brands available to independent practitioners in South Africa**