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DigiFocus: New Study Shows Doubled Daily Use

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Feedback from Users and Dispensers Shapes Next Generation of Digital Instruments

SOMERSET, NJ, June 8, 1999 -Digital hearing aid users are likely to double the daily use of their instruments compared to those wearing analogue devices. This is one of the findings of a new clinical study conducted by Sweden's Linköping University, one of the world's leading audiological research centers, in which analogue hearing aid users fitted with DigiFocus were tested after one year of wearing advanced digital instruments. Other study results include significant improvements in speech recognition in noise and better perception of the user's own voice.

The Linköping study included a series of protocols designed to assess the benefits gained from using digital hearing aids, such as identified perceived handicap, objective speech intelligibility and evaluation of sound quality.

"The most surprising discovery in this follow-up study is that, over time, DigiFocus improves speech recognition by up to 25 per cent, which indicates considerable long-term acclimatization benefits," states Professor Stig Arlinger, of Linkoping University's Department of Audiology. "In parallel testing with analogue instruments, we measured improvements averaging 1.4 dB in terms of speech-to-noise ratio at a 60 dB speech level. At a 75 dB speech level the improvement was 0.65 dB."

As one of the earliest fully digital hearing instruments, DigiFocus from Oticon, which was introduced in 1996, was selected for the study. Oticon has used research, such as the Linkoping study, as well as feedback from users and dispensers to develop a new generation of DigiFocus instruments, the just introduced DigiFocus II, that incorporate a range of new features and improvements.

Second Generation
Among DigiFocus II's new offerings are smaller and cosmetically attractive instruments, better sound quality, and an easier, more flexible fitting system. A new Audible Status Indicator beeps when the battery is running low, and when the user switches between the Microphone and Telecoil functions.

The new generation of DigiFocus encompasses CIC, ITC, ITE, ITE(T) and BTE instruments. The custom instruments will be the only small instruments on the market to feature the new MicroWaxBuster which is approximately one-third the size of the original WaxBuster. The ITE instruments include a new faceplate with a space-saving, swing-out battery door.

As with the original DigiFocus, the proprietary ASA2 and SKI rationales remain an integral part of DigiFocus II. They offer precise seven-band frequency shaping to maximize the user's full auditory range across frequencies, syllabic compression in the low frequencies for optimum speech intelligibility, plus Adaptive Gain for full access to all the subtle wave form details of the high frequency speech information.

These rationales have now been further developed to include soft squelch and improved dynamic range. While soft squelch ensures that the internal noise figures are now lower than any other product on the market, compression at very high input levels means that DigiFocus II now ensures distortion-free sound at levels up to 115 dB SL.

Flexible Fitting
The fitting process for the new generation of DigiFocus will be more flexible with the introduction of a new version of OtiSet and the EasyFit portable programming unit. OtiSet 4.0 will include an Auto Detect Function that automatically identifies the instrument being connected. It also offers a Quick Fitting Mode for initial adjustments of gain and tonal balance. The new Feedback Manager automatically detects feedback, enabling hearing care professionals to effectively reduce feedback without compromising speech intelligibility.

The "One Year Follow-Up of Users of a Digital Hearing Aid" study was headed by Professor Stig Arlinger and Audiologist Erica Bilermark, Department of Technical Audiology, Linköping University, Sweden. The study involved 12 women and 17 men, ranging from 45 to 77 years of age. The participants received no payment, and tests were based on a scaling procedure, an adaptive test procedure and several questionnaires, including the Gothenburg Profile and the APHAB.

Established in 1904, Oticon is one of the world's most experienced hearing aid manufacturers. The company is committed to improving the quality of life for those with hearing loss, through research, technological advancement and a focus on patient requirements.

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