Small hearing aids: The pros and cons


Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing

Hearing devices have come a long way since since the first electric hearing aid was created in 1898, making even greater strides in the last ten years. Today’s hearing aids amplify sound more precisely, all but eliminate feedback and filter out background noise. Now, with the launch of Oticon’s Opn™, they deliver a more natural listening experience than ever before and can connect you closely to technology that helps manage your everyday world.

close up of hand holding attractive small hearing aid
OPN, the latest breakthrough from Oticon

Oticon’s new hearing device builds on their patented BrainHearing™ technology, which delivers a natural listening experience with less listening effort and better speech understanding. BrainHearing was developed in 2014 to support the brain’s role in the hearing process. Although the ears are responsible for collecting sound and converting it into electrical impulses, it’s the brain which ultimately makes sense of it. Like muscles which atrophy when they aren’t being used, the auditory pathways between our ears and brain can atrophy, too. The longer hearing loss goes untreated, the harder the brain must work to understand the messages it’s receiving. This can cause mental fatigue, leading to anxiety, depression, and social isolation. BrainHearing supports the brain and reduces listening strain. 

Hearing and connecting in new ways

The foundation of Opn is technology that tackles the biggest challenge of many hearing aid wearers: understanding speech in noisy environments. Oticon is taking a novel approach in noisy environments where more than one person is talking. Most hearing instruments rely on advanced directional microphone technology that focuses amplification towards the front of the wearer, assuming the speech they want to hear is in front of them, and suppresses other speakers. The new Opn allows wearers to hear the multiple speakers around them just as someone who’s not wearing hearing aids would. The signal processing of Opn is fast enough to not only process speech from multiple directions but also reduce background noise so you have the most natural listening experience possible. 

For several years, the lines between hearing aid technology and consumer electronics have been blurred with hearing aids doubling as sophisticated personal listening devices for television, mobile phones and so much more. With hearing loss no longer being seen as only for the elderly, younger, tech-savvy consumers are demanding more from their hearing aids. The new Oticon Opn takes this idea to an exciting and unprecedented new level. With the ability to connect to the If This Then That Network (IFTTT) via a smartphone app called Oticon ON, Opn can help you automatically trigger your home’s lighting, security system or smart thermostat. As if that’s not enough, you can even program your hearing aids to let you know when someone is at your door or start the brew cycle for your morning coffee! 

Way beyond just a hearing aid, Opn integrates seamlessly with your busy and connected world.  

Oticon Opn features:

  • IFTTT — If This Then That Network, which allows you to control your hearing aids wirelessly and directly from your smartphone and connect to a variety of other devices and services.
  • OpenSound Navigator™ separates sound sources to help you differentiate between multiple speakers and other noise in complex listening environments.
  • SpatialSound™ LX helps your ears process sound together in real time so they can deliver accurate information to the brain.
  • TwinLink™, a dual wireless communication system, provides richer sound and faster connections.
  • Velox™ processing platform, which works with the brain to provide a less stressful listening environment.

Hearing healthcare professionals know the proof of any hearing technology is in the results. Clinicians report on Oticon’s website that patients who try Oticon Opn experience clearer sound and easier hearing in large group settings. One patient said the hearing device significantly reduced her anxiety in social situations because she no longer fears she will miss part of the conversation.

This mini behind-the-ear (BTE) model, available from hearing healthcare professionals like those in our consumer-reviewed directory and is available in eight different colors designed to blend with a variety of skin tones and hair colors.

About Oticon

Innovator Hans Demant created the Oticon brand in 1904 when he developed the electric Acousticon device and began importing and distributing them to the people of Denmark. The company expanded globally throughout the world, including the United States, in 1965. The company is now one of the largest manufacturers of hearing devices in the world.


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