The Next Sound
by Sara Aase
..."Traditionally, you had to
push a button or flip a switch to activate the T-coil, Lawless [Cami
Lawless, a hearing aid dispenser at Associated Hearing in Maplewood,
By contrast, Destiny contains a piece
of nanotechnology called a giant magnetoresistance (GMR) switch,
which uses electron spin rather than magnetic charge to sense signals
and store information. Developed for Starkey by Eden Prairie-based
NVE Corporation, the sensors
consist of layers of magnetic thin films just a few atomic layers
thick--about one-third the size of the mechanical reed switches
that hearing aids typically use. This makes the sensors small and
sensitive enough to use in even the smallest of hearing aids--a
completely-in-the-canal (CIC) device--and allows the Destiny aid
to quickly switch modes automatically as a wearer picks up a phone.
And this isn't a help solely over the phone lines. "We're hearing
that for the first time that people don't want to take their hearing
aids out even when they go to bed, because they're not getting any
feedback from the pillow," [Starkey R&D executive Tim]
With Destiny, Starkey became the first
company to incorporate nanotechnology into its hearing aid microphones
to all but eliminate hearing aid feedback and allow for easy use
with all types of phones. "Using nanotech components lays the
groundwork for being able to bring more advantages to users in a
much smaller space," industry observer [Paul] Dybala says.
"Just the fact that [Starkey was] able to do it is pretty important."
According to [Starkey president Jerry] Ruzicka, just a month after
releasing Destiny, Starkey's run rate was well ahead of his projection
that it would sell a million units in a year's time. But Ruzicka
also knows that Starkey's competitors will strive to catch up to
Destiny within a year or two. "It's really kind of like an
arms race that benefits the consumer," Dybala says...