In the News Aug. 2006

Excerpt from:
TCBM logo

The Next Sound You Hear

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, Minn.] says.

     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] Trine says.

     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...