Phonak and Advanced Bionics have announced the results of their long-term cooperation, a new microphone technology called MultiBeam. MultiBeam is designed to help people who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants to hear better in noisy environments.
A specialized taskforce of more than 10 digital processing and acoustics engineers has been working on the development of the MultiBeam technology since 2009. By utilizing multiple microphones in six directions, speech from 360 degrees is calculated and compared. The microphone then decides the direction with the best signal-to-noise ration and delivers sound from that direction to the user. MultiBeam processing requires almost ten times the complexity of what current generation of Phonak hearing aids are capable of, while cutting the power consumption by more than a third.
University of Texas has performed scientific experiments with a group of 10 patients using MultiBeam in a situation that resembled noise restaurant environment. The patients’ understanding of their three conversation partners improved by 61% in a 75 dB environment, comparing to using just hearing aids.
Professor Linda Thibodeau, from the University of Texas in Dallas who led the research, says: “The Multibeam Technology will allow persons with hearing challenges who have resigned from attending social functions, family gatherings and business meetings to experience significant improvements in speech recognition. This could ultimately lead to improved quality of life as they confidently reconnect with others using discreet, convenient and highly versatile technology.”