The world’s second largest hearing aid manufacturer, Oticon, has developed and launched Oticon Opn, the world’s first internet connected hearing aid.

The new hearing aid is compatible with the web-based service If This, Then That (IFTTT), allowing users to programme Opn to talk directly with other Internet of Things (IoT) enabled devices such as door bells, smoke detectors and baby alarms.

“With Opn we’ve taken a giant leap forward – for both hearing aids and the IoT,” said President of Oticon A/S, Søren Nielsen.

“The potential of IoT is vast, but on a consumer level we’ve largely seen devices that focus on convenience. With Opn, the IoT starts to matter – you could say that this will change people’s lives,” continued Nielsen.

Opn is powered by the Velox platform, the first sound processing system that allows users to more naturally follow multiple conversations in noisy environments without using traditional directionality. Through the use of precise sound analysis performed over 100 times a second, important sound such as speech can be located from any direction, with background noise de-emphasised for optimum clarity.

Opn also has a wireless communication system that allows the user to stream audio directly to their hearing aids from smartphones and other devices using a technology that consumes significantly less battery power when streaming.

The free accompanying Oticon ON app allows users to adjust volume, switch programmes and check battery level and also offers a “find my hearing aid” search feature and quick links to counselling advice and user instructions.

“Oticon has always been about audiology and technology working in harmony, and with Opn we’re introducing new and ground-breaking technology to address real issues that affect those with hearing loss,” said Nielsen.

“Opn opens up a whole new world of sound, allowing users to manage multiple speakers in difficult situations such as dinner conversations and to benefit from technological advances that were previously out of reach. Opn can make a real difference to the lives of people, young and old, who suffer from hearing loss,” continued Nielsen.

Through the newly launched Project On, Oticon intends to transition the IoT into a more meaningful phase – an IoT that matter – where devices and services people depend on for their health and safety join more entertainment and convenience-oriented offerings. Through this Oticon aims to redefine hearing aids as more broadly functional wearables.

“Children with a hearing loss depend on their hearing aid and a dead battery is much more than an inconvenience. An IoT hearing aid can address this issue by sending a text message to a parent when the battery is running low. A mother with a hearing loss can also benefit with an alert to her hearing aids from the baby alarm when her baby is crying,” said Project Manager of Project ON, Michael Porsbo.

“We don’t expect to see people wearing hearing aids just to get these extra functions, but with IoT functionality, the difference between an IoT hearing aid and a connected wireless headset isn’t very great,” concluded Porsbo.

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