Invisible Hearing Aids (IIC)
Invisible Hearing Aids or IIC Invisible-in-Canal hearing aids keep your hearing loss a secret.
As the baby boomers start getting older, many of them aren’t ready to look older too. While hearing loss can occur at any age, even in babies, some people still feel that the use of a hearing device adds years to their appearance.
Because of that, they live in an uncomfortable world only getting half of the conversation and straining for that portion, causing social situations to be exhausting. Hearing aid manufacturers understood the problem and created invisible hearing aids to help those who want to join the rest of the hearing world but don’t want the hearing aid to show.
Sometimes vanity isn't the cause preventing the hearing impaired from using traditional hearing aids. It may be uncomfortable for their ear or simply impractical due to their activities. Just as contact lenses changed the world for the visually impaired, invisible hearing aids now change the world for the hearing impaired.
While many behind-the-ear and completely-in-the-canal hearing aids were almost impossible to see, IIC hearing aids go one-step further. They fit deeper into the ear canal, behind the first bend of the canal, so even someone looking directly into the ear normally can’t see the device. Some of the invisible hearing aids are removable and you leave others in your ears and pay an annual subscription fee for the audiologist to replace the device when the battery runs out.
Removable Invisible Hearing Aids
Some of the removable hearing devices are almost as sophisticated as the more visible behind-the-ear or completely-in-the-canal devices. Even though they’re tiny, many of them pack in the latest technology into that small space. The devices you remove tend to provide a healthier environment in the ear canal than those you leave in until the battery dies.
SoundLens by Starkey is an invisible hearing device that offers a custom fit. Unlike the ready-to-wear version, Amp, Starkey makes the SoundLens to fit your ear canal and hearing loss. It was Starkey’s first design for an invisible hearing aid. SoundLens offers some advanced technology such as the PureWave Feedback eliminator that reduces feedback, such as buzzing and whistling, while giving a more stable gain. It also has T2 Remote Technology allowing the user to adjust the hearing device with a touch-tone phone, Voice iQ², making speech clearer and removing background noise and Spectral iQ, to lower high frequency sounds for those with upper frequency hearing loss.
To fit the demand of the market for an invisible hearing device but one that didn’t require multiple visits to the audiologists or fitting, Starkey created Amp. The company describes Amp, their invisible hearing device, as a starter hearing aid for first time users, similar to an amplifier for speech. While it won’t help everyone, it does provide benefits for 70 percent of the hearing impaired. It’s not beneficial to those with severe hearing loss.
Starkey’s invisible hearing aids don’t require multiple visits to the audiologist’s office but contains the same technology as SoundLens. They are ready to wear with no need for follow-up visits and come in three sizes, small medium and large. The product is two parts. The first is the interior with the technology and the battery. The second part is the changeable plastic sleeve that covers both. Amp is far more reasonable in cost compared to other hearing devices. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re inexpensive. The manufacturers recommended price is $1500 for a pair.
You might wonder how you remove these devices since they’re so tiny and fit so deep. The solution was a thin clear plastic piece that extends to beyond the canal. You simply grasp and pull. Both Starkey’s invisible hearing aids contain venting to relieve any stuffed up feeling you get when you’re ears plug.
Audina’s Xtreme Canal Option is available on several of the company’s hearing aids. Cue is one of the smallest models, but the company also offers it on the Intellio and Intuition hearing aids. Each of these contain varying types of technology and provide specific benefits. The IIC hearing aids fit deep into the canal just like Starkey’s devices and remove the same way.
Cue is the smallest model and provides SoftTouch technology. You simply tap close to the ear to adjust the hearing device for various environments. Even though this model is small, it provides powerful hearing technology.
Audina’s IntelliScan doesn’t require even a single touch. It offers IntelliScan technology that automatically makes the adjustments when the hearing environment changes. Because of that feature, it provides a comfortable signal even when there are sudden abrupt sounds. It also offers a “smart” directional microphone that adapts to the listening direction.
Audina’s Intuition offers the invisible technology on several models, each one with different benefits. The intuition has nano chip technology so the sound you hear has little if any distortion. It also offers SoftWave found in IntelliScan that gives a clear signal even if there are abrupt sounds present. It offers a noise suppressor to eliminate interference from background noise and yet processes the speech clearly. The Intuition 4+ eliminates any whistling sound you might have with other hearing aids. To find the best model for your situation, the company recommends you speak with an audiologist.
Invisible Hearing Aids You Keep in the Ear
Lyric offers an invisible hearing instrument you can leave in your ear for up to 120 days, or until the battery no longer works. Instead of changing batteries, the audiologist simply replaces the device. You pay a subscription fee annually that is in the range of $3,600 to $4,000 a year per ear. One of the benefits of Lyric is that you can shower and even though Lyric doesn’t recommend swimming and diving underwater, the device is waterproof. Once you insert it, you no longer have to worry about it until it’s time to change devices. You do need to remove the Lyric if you’re having an MRI, due to the machines magnetic field.
As time passes, expect to see more invisible hearing aids. It wasn’t so long ago that computers were so large they required a room to hold them and then the processing took forever. Today, even laptops have far faster processing and in a much smaller package. The pricing is also a fraction of the cost of the first computers.
It won’t be long until invisible hearing aids are equipped to handle every facet of hearing loss with more vigor and strength. However, you don’t have to wait 40 years to hear clearer when there are invisible hearing aids now that make your life fuller and richer with the enhanced ability to enjoy conversations and sound.
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