At CES 2019, pioneering hearing device company Cochlear Limited demonstrated their latest implantable hearing devices, hoping to help the nearly half a billion people worldwide that suffer from disabling hearing loss.
Restoring a Person’s Hearing With Technology
A wide range of Cochlear Limited’s devices were on display at the conference, including their Nucleus sound processor series.
The award-winning Nucleus 7 Sound Processor—a featured product at Cochlear Limited’s CES booth—is smaller and lighter than any other behind-the-ear implant in the world, according to the company, and is currently about as top-of-the-line an implant as you can currently find.
The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor works by using a receiver-stimulator to register sounds within range of the implant and converting these into electrical signals. These are then passed through an electrode in the inner ear to then be passed onto the brain as data that the brain can interpret as sound.
It has 50% greater battery life over earlier models, features dual microphones which assist the user in filtering out background noise and provide an optimal hearing experience, and can stream sound data simultaneously to a ReSound hearing aid which allows the user to hear out of both ears at the same time.
The Nucleus 7 also features a Nucleus Smart App which allows users to locate misplaced or lost sound processors, control the sensitivity of the sound processor to reduce noise from behind the implant, or to track a user's progress with the Hearing Tracker.
User Experience With the Nucleus 7
Accompanying Cochlear Limited to CES was Susan Beckett, a recipient of Cochlear Limited’s implants and a current user of the Nucleus 7.
“With the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor I don’t miss a thing and my implants gave me a career. I am able to work for the State of Nevada, where much of my job requires me to transcribe audio recordings, something I never could have done before,” she said.
“After first experiencing hearing loss in high school, I found that the hearing aids were not providing me benefit, but the cochlear implant has. And the upgrade to the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor meant having a technology that enhanced enjoyment and productivity in so many areas of my life, personal and professional.”
Showcasing an Array of Solutions to Hearing Loss
While the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor was obviously the biggest showcase for the company at CES, they also highlighted other hearing devices in the company’s lineup.
Their bone conduction hearing devices were on display for those who suffered from single-sided, conductive, or mixed hearing loss as well as other devices. They also used a VR experience and bone conduction demonstration to let conference goers see and hear what having the implant is like and how it changes the hearing of the user.
Global Scale of Hearing Loss
According to the World Health Organization, as many as 466 million people around the world are suffering from some form of disabling hearing loss, and that number is expected to grow to as many as 900 million by 2050. The WHO also believes that there may be as many as 72 million people worldwide who may benefit from the kind of technology Cochlear Limited is developing.
“The fastest-growing population in the United States is adults over 65 years old and almost a quarter of people aged 65 to 74 years have disabling hearing loss. For people aged 75 and older, that figure jumps to 50 percent of people living with disabling hearing loss,” said Patti Trautwein, Vice President of Marketing and Product Management for Cochlear Limited.
“Despite living with day-to-day challenges of not being able to take part in conversations or engage in society in the way they used to, many people are still unaware that they may be suitable for an implantable hearing device such as a cochlear implant. Less than 5 percent of people who could benefit from a cochlear implant actually have one.”
Cochlear Limited Wants to Change This Trajectory
Cochlear Limited has been a leading producer of hearing devices for decades, so it isn’t surprising that their lineup is as remarkable and as deep as it is, something not a lot of first time CES participants can point to.
“Cochlear has been leading the industry for nearly 40 years with world-first technology,” says Trautwein, “and we’re not slowing any time soon when it comes to continued innovation and making our technology accessible to those who would benefit from it. We’re always listening to the needs of those with hearing loss, so we can help more people, of all ages, to hear and connect with life’s opportunities
Since 1981, Cochlear Limited’s devices have been used by more than 550,000 people in over 100 countries. By bringing their devices to CES 2019, their hope is to educate the public about their options for dealing with hearing loss, options which they may not even know about.
“CES gives us an opportunity,” Trautwein says, “to connect directly with consumers to educate them on hearing loss and how our technology may help them when hearing aids aren’t enough.”