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Apple & Cochlear offer embedded sound processer Nucleus 7
2017-07-31 12:04:10
Liza Tan

Photo by: WillianSJE1 via Pixabay

People with hearing problems could benefit from a partnership between Apple and Cochlear, a hearing assistance companybased in Australia.

The two companies have partnered to produce the Nucleus 7, an embedded sound processor.

Nucleus 7 connects to an iPhone to stream sound directly to a sound processor that is embedded surgically, Forbes reported.

The processor detects sounds that are converted into electric signals by the device's receiver-stimulator.

The sound is thensent to the brain by the electrode placed in the cochlea, the spiral cavity of the inner ear containing the organ Corti, which produces nerve impulses in response to sound vibrations.

Turning point for people with hearing loss

Chris Smith, the chief executive officer and president of Cochlear, disclosed that the company got in June the US Food and Drug Administration's approval for Nucleus 7.

By offering access to mobile technology to people with moderate toprofound hearing loss, it  would allow them to make phone calls, watch videos, enjoy directly streamed FaceTime calls totheir cochlear implant, and listen to music in high-quality stereo sound, Smith said.

Nucleus 7 makes tech history as the first cyborg enhancement to be mass marketed, using embedded technology thatenhances a person's ability.

Its connection to a mass-market technology is its use of the iPhone to stream the sound directlyto the sound processor.

Nucleus smart app

A Nucleus smart app accompanies the Nuclear 7 sound processor.

It has a Hearing Tracker feature that records every timethe sound processor coil fails to detect the implant coil -- which happens when it falls off from the user's head.

It alsomeasures the number of hours the user spent in speech environments.

For patients who would, unfortunately, lose theirsound processor, they could tap the Location Services of the device's Find My Processor feature to see where the sound processor was last connected to an iPhone or iPod touch--or if it was lost in the house or elsewhere.

At the same time, technological advances of the Nucleus 7 enable parents to better monitor the hearingof their child.

For teenagers and adults, with less or no supervision needed, they can stream music and make FaceTime calls, said Laurel Mahoney, a cochlear implant audiologist and clinical assistant professor at the New York University Langone MedicalCenter's Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

Bimodal solution

When Nucleus 7 launches in the fourth quarter of 2017, Cochlear will offer for the first time a smart bimodal solution madefor the iPhone.

It combines a cochlear implant in one ear and a hearing aid in the other ear.The two hearing solutions willprovide synchronized streaming to the two ears from a compatible Apple device. 

Ahead of the launch, Cochlear conducted a trial of Nucleus 7.

It found that all of the users of the hearing device were satisfiedor very satisfied with it.

Ninety-four percent said it is comfortable or very comfortable to wear, while 87 percent said usingthe Nucleus smart app facilitates better controls or monitors the sound processor compared with using a remote control.

Finally, 85percent said the new technology has made listening to music an enjoyable or very enjoyable experience. 

Since the device uses wireless technology, users could have access to several wireless accessories available in the market.

Inaddition, the waterproof Nucleus Aqua+ accessory allows patients to swim while wearing their Nucleus 7 sound processor.

Higher priority for voice 

The priority of the Nucleus 7 sound processor -- which is 24 percent lighter and 25 percent smaller than the Nucleus 6 soundprocessor -- is to prioritize voices over background sounds when the user is in a noisy environment, such as in a restaurant oroutdoors.

The latest model also offers 50-percent longer battery life compared with previous-generation sound processordue to its use of a new processing chip. 

The Nucleus 7 will launch in the US and Canada sometime in September 2017, while the bimodal solution will be availableonly in the US by the same month.

The following month, the Nucleus 7 sound processor will become available in the US and Canada as an upgrade for patients who need to receive a cochlear implant, specifically the Nucleus C124RE, C1500, and ProfileSeries implants.

To access Nucleus 7, go to iPhone setting, click "General" then click "Accessiblity."

Scroll down the screen, a list of different devices will pop up, select "hearing devices," tap it and then the device would show up similar to the way a Bluetooth device would in Bluetooth settings. 

The implant will now pair with the iPhone, Techcrunch reported.

Potential market

So far, more than 450,000 people from different countries have been provided hearing solutions by Cochlear.

Estimates by theWorld Health Organization about 72 million people globally could benefit from the use of a hearing device, such as acochlear implant or hearing aid.

But this is only a fraction of the 360 million people who suffer fromhearing loss worldwide.

Experts reckoned the number would balloon to 1.2 billion hearing-impaired people by 2050.

"This new sound processpr builds on our long-standing commitment to help more people with hearing loss connect withothers and live a full life," Smith said. 


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