What is Cochlear ForwardFocus?
The continued strive for better hearing in noise leads Cochlear to a new feature in the processor configuration for Nucleus 7: ForwardFocus. Over the years, we have seen a lot of changes in the way that noise is managed. We've always had directional microphones. We had early SmartSound that required the user to select a program. We started combining SmartSound technologies, but the user still had to choose it and decide when to use it. The big game changer has been SmartSound IQ (SSiQ) with SCAN, which allows great performance and automatization of the technology, making it easier for patients to hear their best in the majority of situations. SSiQ with SCAN has shown clinically significant improvement in speech understanding in noise (Mauger et al., 2014).
ForwardFocus is a user-controlled tool to reduce noise coming from behind, so the implant recipient can more easily enjoy face-to-face conversation. You will have the choice to enable it in Custom Sound 5.1 for suitable recipients. You likely have some tech-savvy patients with smartphones who are already using the Smart App and are not overwhelmed by having the availability of additional controls. For the "set it and forget it" folks, you might choose not to enable it for those patients. Through Data Logging, you can always review their lifestyle needs and enable it later down the road. ForwardFocus is geared toward users 12 years of age and older who can actively face the person with whom they're speaking. Also, the user should exhibit good head control, and have the ability to provide feedback about sound quality. It is an excellent tool for patients who are in a lot of challenging listening environments with speech in noise.
ForwardFocus can provide a benefit over SCAN and Background Noise Reduction (SNR-NR). It doesn't need a special program to be configured. A recipient may choose to enable the feature via the Smart App when they are in a difficult listening environment with diffuse noise (e.g., a restaurant), if they are struggling to understand what is being said, and if they are able to easily orient themselves to face a talker within a conversational distance and position the distracting noise behind them. Of course, there may still be situations where a user is trying to hear a single speaker from a far away distance. In those cases, the Mini Mic 2+ may be the better solution. ForwardFocus provides users with another tool in their toolbox.
Mauger, S. J., Warren, C. D., Knight, M. R., Goorevich, M., & Nel, E. (2014). Clinical evaluation of the Nucleus® 6 cochlear implant system: Performance improvements with SmartSound iQ. International journal of audiology, 53(8), 564-576.