Hearing aids have changed a lot over time. We have gone from devices that amplified sound quite abruptly to true technological marvels capable of working with tact and finesse. Today, digital hearing aids do technical wonders but perhaps most impressive is their ability to detect what environment the wearer is in and if they are having a conversation and behave differently accordingly. Until now, this adaptability to the environment has always been carried out through programming, a purely digital mechanism, but this is beginning to change thanks to Phonak, one of the world's leading hearing aid brands. This manufacturer has released a new reciever for its Audéo Paradise hearing aids called ActiveVent that manages to vary physical aspects of the hearing aid configuration in real time depending on the environment.

Open fitting vs. closed fitting

When fitting RIC hearing aids (typical behind-the-ear hearing aids with a cord attached to a receiver that goes into the ear), audiologists are always faced with the dilemma between choosing the adapter for the receiver that the wearer is inserted into the ear. This can be open (which does not completely close the ear canal) or closed (which seeks to close the canal as much as possible). These two purely physical configurations have their advantages and disadvantages that are reflected in the programming of the hearing aid. On the one hand, open fittings are more comfortable for the user since there is no sensation of blockage and they allow a part of the environment to be captured naturally. On the other hand, this opening makes the hearing aid more likely to beep, which forces us to limit the volume it can give in order to avoid it. Instead, closed fittings are the opposite. They can be somewhat more uncomfortable when closing the ear but in return they allow us to give the user all the necessary volume and thus achieve maximum hearing performance.

Luckily, the new ActiveVent receiver from Phonak arrives to avoid this dilemma and to be able to give the user both options as the occasion requires.

How does Phonak’s ActiveVent work?

ActiveVent is a new type of receiver that features an integrated opening right next to the sound outlet. This opening can be opened and closed by a small disc inside it, allowing to change the physical configuration of the hearing aid, or in other words, to be able to go from an open to a closed fitting in an instant. The operating system detects what situation the user is in and, depending on what is most convenient at that moment, it changes from one state to another:

  • On the one hand, in normal environments, the receiver disk remains open, thus giving all the advantages of an open fit. In this way, the hearing aid achieves maximum comfort for the user, makes him perceive his own voice more naturally and allows him to be more aware of environmental sounds.
  • On the other hand, in difficult listening environments with speech, the receiver disc becomes closed, thereby providing all the benefits of a closed fit. In this way, it prevents ambient sound from entering the ear directly, with the hearing aid deciding whether or not to reduce the noise. Thus, the user can focus more on speech and establish a comfortable conversation in the most difficult environments. In addition, this setting is also used when listening to a direct stream to the hearing aid, such as a radio program on a mobile phone.

At Claso we are pleased with this technical innovation from Phonak as it will allow us to make adaptations that adapt to many more different situations without having to sacrifice user comfort. We believe that this new technology is a perfect example of how technological advances should always be aimed at improving people's lives. And, without a doubt, this is one of the pillars that lay the foundations for Claso's philosophy.