My experiences with Oticon's OpenSound Navigator


Opn, OpenSound Navigator & Noise

I've been wearing a pair of Oticon Opn hearing aids for a while now, with great results. One of the key innovations in the Opn range is the OpenSound Navigator technology, this has helped me immensely to hear in noisy environments like restaurants.

OpenSound Navigator at Work


The image below it from Oticon's website, I wanted to add it in here as it perfectly illustrates how the OpenSound Navigator tech is working for me.

Oticon Opn OpenSound Navigator


I wrote previously about wearing Opn in a noisy restaurant environment, it was difficult to describe how they were working compared to older hearing aids I have worn. With older aids I usually had one of three problems:

  1. Background noise was overpowering and drowned out all the speakers I wanted to hear, all sounds were given more or less equal volume so someone at my able sounded as loud as someone two tables down. 
  2. Everything was too quiet, including people I wanted to hear. This is opposite to #1, a too aggressive noise reduction resulted in me struggling to hear anyone.
  3. A narrow directionality on my hearing aids meant I could hear someone directly in front of me, but no-one else (as well). 

So how does the Oticon Opn feel different?

Up till now, modern hearing aids have used a directionality method of trying to pinpoint who you want to listen to in a noisy place, you could have your hearing aids set to focus straight in front of you or you could widen that focus a bit to encompass more sounds, but it was really about narrowing the areas down you wanted to hear from and blocking out noise from elsewhere. 

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360-Degree Sound

The OpenSound Navigator approach is to use real-time analysis of the environment from a 360-degree perspective and to pinpoint voices of interest within that. So it is less about narrowing the focus of your listening to just people in front of you but to instead make smart decisions based on where the voices are.

I added the picture in above because it is a perfect example of how I am hearing right now. The three people in the group are in front and to each side of the listener but all of their voices will come through clearly. 

A thing I noticed in the restaurants that background noise has real clarity but is not overpowering and it doesn't get in the way of the conversation I want to hear. The circular sound waves in the picture are again a good visual description. My experience is that the voices and noises close to me (i.e. sat at my table in the restaurant) have the emphasis, those further afield have less emphasis (the 2nd wave in the picture) and those further out have less emphasis still (the 3rd wave in the picture). So it feels like the Opns are taking a 360-degree soundscape and delivering it based on distance from me, rather than the direction the sound comes from.

Inside The Bubble

I described it to someone the other day as kind of like being inside a bubble where the bubble is around the table I am sat at and it shields me from a lot of noise from outside it.

OpenSound Navigator has not let me down so far, it is delivering a good quality of sound in all environments I have tried it in. It is new, it is different and it works.
 

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