Thursday, July 24, 2014

Research by Linda Thibodeau shows: latest Phonak technology offers long sought breakthrough for people with hearing loss

In a paper published in the American Journal of Audiology, Professor Linda Thibodeau of the University of Texas describes her findings of a new technology which allows people with hearing loss to hear and understand speech better than those with normal hearing.

Up to 62%* better understanding than people with normal hearing

In her research, Professor Linda Thibodeau conducted measurements comprising a comparative speech recognition test with hearing aid users. This was achieved by using different wireless technologies (fixed FM and adaptive FM) and the new technology (called Roger) – in different noise levels. “Our research with the new Roger wireless technology compared to the current and past Phonak wireless FM systems yielded impressive benefits for adults and teens listening to speech in noise in a laboratory and real world situations. Particularly at high noise levels the use of Roger allowed significant speech recognition where it was previously impossible”, summarizes Linda Thibodeau. An even more: Roger technology enabled hearing aid users to understand speech in high noise and over distance by up to 62%* better than people with normal hearing in the same condition. 

The Roger technology was invented at Phonak headquarters in Switzerland. A team of over 40 engineers and audiologists, worked together for more than seven years on the project. A radical new approach was taken to extract speech from background noise, based on complex mathematical models. One of the breakthrough moments in the development of the technology was the recognition of the systems capability of successfully assessing the background noise in order to effectively reduce it and extract the desired speech signal. Next to the performance, the group also worked on the design of the new technology. One of the products, a wireless microphone, looks like a pen aiming to be as inconspicuous as possible.

“We are extremely proud of this achievement and keen to see which impact Roger will have on people’s lives. Restoring people’s hearing is our mission, and we strive to do more, do better for those with hearing loss”, says Maarten Barmentlo, Group Vice President Marketing for Phonak. “To provide better hearing in noise is in our DNA. By giving people even an advantage over those with no hearing loss we made the impossible possible”. 

 For more information on Phonak Roger, please visit:

The study at a glance
  • Test group: 11 adults, aged 16 to 78, with moderate-to-severe hearing loss, fitted with behind the ear hearing aids of different brands
  • Control group: 15 adults, aged 18 to 30, with normal hearing 
  • Test method: objective and subjective speech recognition measurements at different noise levels
Highlight results
  • Roger clearly outperforms adaptive FM and fixed FM
  • Roger enable people with hearin gaids to even hear bettre than the normal hearing from 65dB
  • One participant went from 0 to 90% (at 75dB) and from 0 to 58% (at 80dB) speech recognition with Roger 

 * Professor Thibodeau, Linda, PhD (2014), Comparison of speech recognition with adaptive digital and FM wireless technology by listeners who use hearing aids, University of Texas, Dallas, USA, The American Journal of Audiology. Volume 23, 201-210, June 2014.