Sunday, December 21, 2014

Phonak Launches U.S. Audiology Research Center

Left to right: Aniket Saoji, PhD, Christine Jones, AuD, Lori Rakita, AuD

New facility debuts industry first-of-its-kind Listening Loft for testing real-life hearing technology performance 

Phonak U.S., the leader in innovative hearing solutions has launched the Phonak Audiology Research Center (PARC), its North American center for innovation, audiology and clinical research. The research conducted at the PARC is specifically targeted to the needs of US hearing care professionals, providing them with evidence-based science to support best-practice clinical protocols that ultimately result in higher patient satisfaction and increased adoption of hearing technology. Dr. Christine Jones, Director of Pediatric Clinical Research at the new Phonak US Audiology Research Center (PARC) conducts hearing testing on a three year-old patient as part of a bigger clinical study being conducted at the PARC on Thursday, December 18, 2014 at Phonak headquarters in Warrenville, Ill. Phonak is renowned for its long history in providing pediatric hearing solutions and wireless communication products for every age. The PARC is a new and important asset in helping to drive innovation...

Currently, the adoption rate of hearing devices among U.S. consumers with some degree of hearing loss is only 25 percent, and it takes an average of seven years for those with hearing loss to seek care. This collaboration between Phonak audiology and engineering represents a powerful multi-disciplinary approach designed to advance the understanding of hearing loss and explore new applications of hearing technology performance.

In addition to having a state-of-the-art patient testing facility with the latest measurement capabilities, Phonak researchers are exploring the limits of hearing instrument functionalities in real life using the PARC Listening Loft. "The Listening Loft environment replicates the living areas of a home and allows us to test hearing technology in a realistic and natural environment," said Aniket Saoji, PhD, Senior Manager of Phonak Clinical Research.

 "We've outfitted it with a sound demonstration system which replicates a wide range of sound and speech recordings that people experience in everyday living- talking while the TV is on and the dishwasher is going, etc.," explained Dr. Saoji. "This way, we're able to demonstrate products and capture data in perfectly simulated real-world environments where people want the most from their hearing devices. Additionally, testing new hearing devices early in development provides in an unprecedented ability to evaluate the benefit and application of new hearing innovations and further optimize them prior to commercialization," he added.

The PARC is also home to Pediatric product validation efforts, led by Christine Jones AuD, Director of Phonak Pediatric Clinical Research. A highly specific clinical approach is needed for pediatric audiology. "We don't use adult hearing devices on children because kids are not just 'small adults' when it comes to hearing. Instead we develop our pediatric portfolio according to the unique needs of children at various stages of their development," explained Dr. Jones. "For example, the experimental Roger lab allows us to evaluate new wireless technologies used in schools across the country and gain insights from all the stakeholders involved — educational audiologists, teachers, children and their families. This iterative process lets us leverage those user insights to enhance product development and tightly align product innovation with user needs and expectations."

Effective collaboration between the Phonak U.S. team and its counterparts in Switzerland was also demonstrated with the recent launch of the Phonak Venture product platform. The Phonak U.S. team conducted the verification work on the new Adaptive StereoZoom algorithm using specialized speaker configurations and measurement equipment, as well as real patient testing.

"When you review all of the innovation that Phonak has brought to the market over the past decades, it's very impressive and rewarding to know how many people have benefitted from it," said Bill Dickinson, AuD, Vice President of Audiology, Phonak U.S. "Even more inspiring is our ongoing passion to push the limits of technology further and produce scientific evidence using the exceptional resources available at the PARC."

This marks just the beginning of work by the Phonak clinical research team, who is integral in discovering new solutions that are meaningful and effective for the 35+ million people in the United States struggling with some degree of hearing loss.