Cochlear, a medical device company at the forefront of the world’s hearing implant market, has announced the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor, the world’s first Made for iPhone cochlear implant sound processor, in partnership with Apple. Known for it’s Nucleus cochlear implant and Baha bone conduction implant technologies, Cochlear previously released the world’s first Made for iPhone bone conduction sound processor in 2015. Adding the ability to directly interface with mobile technologies to its line of cochlear implant sound processors extends this significant improvement in quality of life to those living with even more severe levels of hearing loss. Through this integration, such individuals can directly stream sound from their iPhone to their implant to use features like FaceTime, teleconferencing, or auditory map navigation directly from their mobile device. The Nucleus 7 is expected to be available in the US and Canada by September of this year.
To learn more about how the Nucleus 7 takes an important step forward in closing the technology gap for some 360 million individuals worldwide living with hearing loss, Medgadget had a chance to speak with Jan Janssen, Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Cochlear.
Mike Batista, Medgadget: Where did the opportunity to work with Apple on the next generation of Nucleus technology originate?
Jan Janssen: Cochlear’s engineering team has had an ongoing collaboration with Apple’s team dedicated to ‘accessibility’ and expanding Made for iPhone technology to more people. In 2015, we released the Baha 5 Sound Processor – the first ever Made for iPhone bone conduction sound processor, available to people with moderate to severe hearing loss. Now in 2017, we have introduced the world’s first Made for iPhone cochlear implant sound processor — the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor — providing a new level of access to the digital world for people with severe to profound hearing loss.
Medgadget: How does the ability to directly stream sound from Apple mobile devices to the Nucleus 7 sound processor improve upon how patients engage with their mobile devices today?
Janssen: Being the world’s first Made for iPhone cochlear implant sound processor, the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor opens up a whole new world in terms of accessibility, connectivity and wireless solutions, allowing users to stream sound from iPhone, iPad and iPod touch directly to their sound processor.
The direct streaming provided in the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor makes desirable iPhone features – such as enjoying music and watching videos – no longer a challenge and more easily accessible. Importantly, it also enhances the experience of talking on the phone (including FaceTime) – something we know is incredibly important for our customers.
It is also the first-ever Made for iPhone Smart Bimodal Solution (the combination of a cochlear implant in one ear and a hearing aid in the other), enabling both hearing solutions to provide synchronized streaming to both ears from a compatible iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. These advancements offer better connectivity than any other cochlear implant sound processor available today.
The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor also combines the world’s first Made for iPhone technology with Cochlear’s industry-leading technology, SmartSound iQ with SCAN, and dual microphone technology, helping people to hear more clearly in any environment. From a classroom to the outdoors, the technology prioritizes voices over background sounds in a noisy environment.
Medgadget: What kinds of things will people with hearing loss using the Nucleus 7 be able to do now that was not possible in previous generations of Cochlear technologies?
Janssen: Taking phone calls, accessing audio-based apps, streaming music, and making FaceTime calls have been difficult, as cochlear implant recipients have had to use external devices to successfully complete these tasks. With the ability to stream sound from a compatible Apple device directly to the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor, users can now focus on performing well in meetings and communicating with family and friends via phone and FaceTime, rather than constantly worrying that they will not be able to hear.
Users also have more ability to control, monitor and customize their hearing on their iPhone or iPod touch through the Nucleus® Smart App available to download for free from the App Store.
- The new Hearing Tracker feature records coil-offs time (each time the sound processor coil does not detect the implant coil, such as if it has fallen off a child’s head) and time in speech (which measures the amount of time spent in speech environments in hours, including FM and streaming).
- The Nucleus Smart App Find My Processor feature helps locate a lost sound processor by using Location Services to determine the last place the sound processor was connected to the paired iPhone or iPod touch, whether it has been lost on the playground, in the house or in the car.
Medgadget: Does the Nucleus 7 pair with all Apple devices including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops?
Janssen: The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor is compatible for streaming with iPad, iPhone and iPod touch 5th generation devices (or later) running iOS 10.0 or higher. It is not designed for use with other Apple devices. The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor may be paired with up to five compatible Apple devices and the Nucleus Smart App may be installed on all five devices. The Nucleus Smart App is compatible with iPhone 5 (or later) and iPod 6th generation devices (or later) running iOS 10.0 or later.
Medgadget: What challenges still exist for people living with hearing loss?
Janssen: We’re spending more time online than ever before – sharing, connecting, consuming content, and playing games. For people with hearing loss, using the phone, experiencing audio on social media and hearing in a noisy situation can be challenging. We have had great progress in recent years with Cochlear’s SmartSound IQ with SCAN technology helping people to hear more clearly in any environment. The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor takes things one step further to overcome these challenges and offer an even better experience for our customers.
Medgadget: What can we look forward to seeing from Cochlear going forward?
Janssen: Right now, we’re focused on making the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor available to as many people as possible. Commercial availability for the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor is expected in September 2017 in the U.S. and Canada for those who are looking to receive a cochlear implant. The Nucleus 7 Bimodal Solution is also expected in September 2017, only in the U.S., for those who are looking to receive a cochlear implant. And in the United States and Canada, the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor will be available as an upgrade in October 2017 for current recipients with the following internal cochlear implants: Nucleus CI24RE, CI500 and Profile Series Implants.
Product page: Nucleus 7 Sound Processor…