Friday 13th: Not a bad launch......
I attended the Unitron launch at Heathrow. This was a pretty reasonable affair to update the Moxi range and the BTE's as well as add a couple more products in ITE.
Looks like Unitron have undertaken a fairly significant look at the ERA platform and it's underpinnings: I'm assuming this will be like the Spice-Spice + revision recently undertaken by Phonak. As it turns out the the new Moxi PRO benefits from the full array beamforming technology as part of the Automatic package rather than a discrete dispenser-selectable program. This is full spatial mapping as vaulted by Starkey, but I suspect in a better looking and better featured overall package.
Apparently the aids are now able to track principal voice sources bilaterally and beam-form onto them to the exclusion of background noise. Most of the presentation was light on actual improvements, but the ability of the aids to identify speech in noise was pretty good. Transitions to other sounds and music also sounded pretty effective during the demonstration. Moxi Pro's are ONLY sold as pairs, if you want one, you get a bog-standard Moxi. The technology is also available across the larger BTE (Quantum) range too.
Also new were some high power ITE models to strengthen the offering, but far more relevant was the introduction of the Micro - one of the smallest IIC I've seen. It's claimed to be smaller than the Phonak Nano, through a couple of neat touches and the smallest transducers available. I'm not going to quite agree with the 50% claimed volume reduction of transducers, but the receiver was the thinnest device I've ever seen - which makes me suspect that it doesn't use conventional coil technology at all, but panel excitation like the founding technology behind the Otolens. This essentially uses current to manipulate a crystalline surface quite rapidly - sort of like the way the numerals work on a digital watch. It's not capable of moving vast volumes of air, but it will move it quite quickly with lowish voltages: so assuming your residual canal volume is not too high (like an IIC) you can get enough pressure to make sound waves. Interestingly enough, this establishes the possibility of a wipe/clean back 'face' to future IIC aids which will simply remove lots of the issues we currently experience with wax.
And, to top it all off, Rula Lenska (the actress) gave an address thanking Unitron for their support with the latest products, which was quite encouraging.