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2004: Acuris. Hearing aids that can communicate

Conventional hearing aids worn on both sides work independently of each other. That means there can be delays in signal processing that make it harder for the wearer to hear with a sense of space. Working to find a solution to this problem, Siemens developed a hearing instrument featuring the world’s smallest wireless device. With Acuris hearing aids, both sides constantly exchanged large volumes of data and adjusted to any hearing situation, in sync with each other. A team made up of researchers from the University of Oldenburg and Siemens received the prestigious Deutscher Zukunftspreis (Federal German President’s Award for Innovation in Science and Technology) for their pioneering work on these instruments in 2012.

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Acuris product range

People with poor hearing on both sides should wear a hearing aid in each ear; this way the brain can process information from its surroundings carefully and be able to localize the source of the sounds more easily. This ability is also tremendously important in terms of personal safety: To be able to react appropriately in road traffic, we have to be able to sense the direction from which other road users are coming toward us.

Siemens launched its Acuris hearing aid in 2004 as the world’s first hearing instrument in which the right and left hearing aids were synchronized with each other wirelessly on an ongoing basis. They analyzed the hearing situation and exchanged data constantly in order to reach the perfect setting in harmony with each other. This allowed the brain to be supplied with the necessary information evenly from both ears. People with hearing loss on both sides found their ability to place the source of a sound was perfectly restored, while also benefiting from enhanced sound quality and better directional hearing. This was made possible by e2e (ear-to-ear) wireless radio technology – the smallest wireless system in the world, developed by Siemens.

The wireless connection also helped with operating the device. In older hearing instruments, the volume and programs still had to be set separately for each side, but since the launch of Acuris hearing aids, a single hand motion is enough for both devices. For the in-the-ear (ITE) Acuris model, this meant that the volume control and program button could be installed separately, one on each side. This saved space, a development that pleased the engineers greatly, as the wireless technology posed a new challenge: Besides the conventional components, an antenna and all the radio components also had to fit inside the housing. For this “binaural” hearing instrument technology, German president Joachim Gauck presented the team of researchers from the University of Oldenburg and engineers from Siemens Audiology Solutions with the prestigious Deutscher Zukunftspreis – Germany’s highest award for technology and innovation – in 2012.

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