Phonak Marvel™: The Science Behind the Multifunctional Marvel
AudiologyOnline: What was the No. 1 priority when Phonak developed Audéo Marvel?
Lori Rakita: When we develop any product, the No. 1 priority is to design innovations that respond to the needs of the hearing aid user. We don’t create features just to create features, but to make changes and implement around a need.
The truth of the matter is that the needs of a hearing aid user change throughout the hearing aid journey, from the very first moments of hearing aid use when comfort is key, to hearing performance out in the real world, to long-term aspects of hearing related to overall wellness over time.
Marvel offers technologies that are designed to address each of these stages of the hearing aid journey. Research studies at the Phonak Audiology Research Center (PARC), as well as research institutions around the world support the benefit of Marvel at each of these stages.
AudiologyOnline: What is the first step in a successful hearing aid journey?
Lori Rakita: The first stage, or step, in a successful hearing aid journey is the first fit. This is a really pivotal moment in the success of a hearing aid user. He or she has to find the first fit acceptable to become a long-term hearing aid user and experience the benefit of hearing aids.
The thing we don’t really talk about when it comes to first fit is that it may be the beginning of the hearing aid journey, but it is typically the end of five to seven years of waiting to pursue amplification. This makes the first fit even more important, as we want new hearing aid users to be encouraged to wear their hearing aids. Comfort at the first-fit appointment is key, without sacrificing performance.
Phonak Marvel has a new first-fit algorithm designed, specifically, for the needs of first-time hearing aid users. The sound is clear, rich and comfortable, without sacrificing hearing performance. Sound quality that is enjoyable “out of the box” is a hallmark of Phonak Marvel.
Here at PARC, we studied First Fit Acceptance for brand-new hearing aid users as they tried hearing aids for the first time. We compared their subjective judgements for Phonak Marvel as compared to Phonak Belong™ (our previous platform) and a comparable competitor’s hearing aid.
The results showed a significant preference for Phonak Marvel over the other two hearing aid types when asked which provided better sound quality immediately at first fit, and Phonak Marvel was selected as the “favorite” hearing aid almost twice as often as the competitor’s hearing aid. This study showed us that Marvel was a big leap forward in creating a comfortable first hearing aid experience for new users.
AudiologyOnline: After the first fit, how does Marvel continue to support the hearing aid wearer, especially as he/she encounters a busy, noisy world?
Lori Rakita: Yes, the first fit is one thing, but of course, we have to consider what happens when the hearing aid user steps out into the noisy world. This is when the sound cleaning features and innovations related to listening in background noise come in to play. All of the benefits related to first-fit sound quality cannot come at the expense of hearing performance, and with Marvel, the hearing aid user can experience both superior sound quality at first fit and performance.
Marvel is packed full of features that are built upon a long history of Phonak innovation. AutoSense OS™ 3.0, the Phonak operating system, changes the features in the hearing aid seamlessly as the hearing aid user moves from one listening environment to another, without the hearing aid user having to push any buttons or think about the hearing aid. Now the operating system is smart enough to classify streaming inputs as well as environmental input, creating a truly seamless listening experience. This means we are not pulling the hearing aid user out of the moment to focus on the hearing aid — they can be truly present in every life experience.
In extremely noisy environments, AutoSense OS has the power to activate Adaptive StereoZoom, another key Phonak innovation. This binaural beamformer is the extra “gear” of sound cleaning that can make a tremendous difference in the hearing aid user’s ability to understand in the most challenging situations. The power of this feature has been shown in over numerous research studies performed at independent research centers and universities around the world.
AudiologyOnline: What long-term benefits can come from great first fit experience and superior performance?
Lori Rakita: The combination of a great first fit experience and superiority in performance leads to longer-term benefits related to improved well-being. A recent study performed at the University of Oldenburg used brain activity, or EEG, to measure listening effort on a neural level. They found that the StereoZoom feature, the narrow beamformer in the Phonak Marvel hearing aids, led to lower levels of effort when listening in background noise as compared to a competitor.
This is a hugely important finding, since we know sustained effort and stress over long periods of time can negatively impact wellness. The finding that Phonak Marvel can truly make listening less effortful on a physiologic, neural level means that hearing aid users will experience the benefits of a more effortless listening experience over time, leading to higher overall wellness as compared to hearing aids that do not have these innovations.
AudiologyOnline: What is the key factor about a hearing aid’s features, or individual technologies, when it comes to satisfaction for a hearing aid wearer?
Lori Rakita: The effectiveness of a hearing is more than just about the individual features or individual technologies. Rather, it’s how those technologies come together to impact the listening experience for hearing aid users. Phonak Marvel is packed full of advanced innovations.
There are a lot of complex features being engaged, automatic features optimizing the hearing aid in real time, powerful algorithms that clean the signal and make decisions about each listening environment. The outcome is that a hearing aid user wearing Phonak Marvel can move throughout his or her day, throughout his or her life with no effort. Whether he/she is streaming media, in complex, noisy environments, in quiet, on a phone call — Phonak Marvel will work in such a way that the hearing aid user never has to think about the hearing aid.
Along each stage of the hearing aid journey, from the first moments of hearing aid use, to the most difficult listening situations, to long-term reduced effort levels over time — Phonak Marvel is a hearing aid that has the ability to change the lives of hearing aid users at every stage of the hearing aid journey.