What makes Phonak's new pediatric portfolio, Sky V, different from other pediatric technology?
First of all, the pediatric operating system called AutoSense Sky OS is able to recognize and analyze the unique environments a child is in during a typical day in real time, and to continually select the best settings.
Phonak HQ conducted an internal study with students in multiple classrooms and schools (both mainstream and deaf) across several countries. Investigators observed children with hearing loss during daily activities, recorded those activities, and classified the different situations based on the teaching style or teaching method used and the type of learning activity in the classroom.
This pie chart below shows the breakdown of the percentage of time in a student’s day that is spent in particular activities. We can see that roughly 35 percent of time is spent in frontal lecture type listening situations or in independent work activities. For classroom lecture, we know that Roger can overcome the effects of distance and help bring the teacher’s voice directly to the child.
But there’s also a significant amount of time - approximately 34 percent - spent in group work, conversation or interactive classroom activities. Historically, access to more than one Roger microphone for many children has not been available due to policies of funding limitations that support only one microphone that is usually only worn by the teacher.
We discovered from the children that it is these group and interactive lessons that are most difficult for them to understand their peers, either one-on-one or in groups. They also commonly reported significant discomfort during exciting activities, like recess, sports and even class change. During these types of activities, other children can be quite loud, even shouting or yelling.
This study then obtained recordings of these listening situations throughout the day with a microphone placed very close to the students’ actual hearing aids, to ensure the recorded input matched what the hearing aids picked up. These recordings were then played into and processed by the operating system in ‘adult’ hearing instruments to determine how successful the automatic system is at tackling these very kid-specific listening environments. This analysis showed that situations such as group work and yelling are unique to children’s daily listening environments, and are not optimally recognized in the ‘adult’ signal processing unit. AutoSense OS was retrained by using additional hours of classroom recordings from the study to develop the pediatric automatic classifier, AutoSense Sky OS.
In terms of outcomes, marked improvements include:
- Up to 30 percent more precise Speech in Noise classification during noisy classroom activities
- Up to 39 percent more precise Comfort-in-Noise classification
- Improvement in listening comfort for yelling and shouting throughout a child’s day during school, extracurricular and home activities
These results support the need for an operating system tailored to the specific listening environment of a child.