What features should hearing professionals look for in a nanocoating technology for hearing aids? And, can nanocoatings be improved further than their current level of protection?
The primary benefit of nanocoated hearing instruments is a vastly improved resistance to moisture, oil and debris. Because nanocoating is so thin as to be undetectable just by examining or touching a treated device, the hearing care professional should ask manufacturers how the technology is applied to their products, and how they ensure optimum protection compared to untreated products. ReSound iSolate technology treats several device components inside and out, not just a few individual vulnerable components as other manufacturers may. The application process ensures global coating of all components inside and out. Evaluation of this technology included water roll-off testing, contact angle measurement of water droplet formation, abrasion testing, accelerated lifecycle testing, listening tests, microphone sensitivity tests, and biocompatibility tests.
One of the measures of effectiveness of nanocoating is the "wettability", which describes how a liquid remains in contact with a surface. Wettability is quantified by the angle of contact formed between the surface and the water droplet that is applied to the surface. The higher the angle, the more hydrophobic the surface is, with 180 degrees being the ideal situation. ReSound iSolate technology yields contact angles of 120 to 130 degrees, indicating a highly hydrophobic surface. Possible improvements in this technology could be made in the makeup of the polymer coating itself, which could result in even greater hydrophobic properties of the treated surface.
Jennifer Groth, M.A., is Director of Audiology Communication at GN ReSound, where she is responsible for product definition and audiology-driven support for products in the market. She has served in roles such as research audiologist and product manager through the course of her career. She holds a Master of Arts degree in speech pathology & audiology from the University of Iowa.
To learn more about ReSound, visit www.gnresound.com or on the ReSound web channel on AudiologyOnline.