Signia launched its new AX platform in May and it represents a rather interesting new way to handle background noise and present speech which they call Augmented Focus. The platform has two separate digital sound processors, one for speech and one for background noise. That's not quite how they work, but the focus of the processing and sounds handled deliver it. Let's talk about Signia AX.
The Augmented Focus feature uses two independent sound processors. The first concentrates on ‘focus’ sound like the speech of a conversation partner. The second addresses ‘surrounding’ sounds like background music or ambient laughter. The two processors capture focus and surrounding sound independently to create greater contrast between the two which offers a better presentation of focus sounds over the surrounding sound. The feature is based on the input of sound captured by the directional microphones which you can see in the diagram below.
Basing the processing and mix of sounds presented on the directionality makes a whole lot of sense. Normally, the things you want to hear are in front of you while the things you aren't concerned about are behind you. That is not always the case though, for instance, if you are at the bar and one of your friends is calling for a drink. It will be interesting to see how the hearing aids handle situations like that.
Update June 9, 2021: I spoke today with somebody from Signia who explained a couple of things about the new Augmented Focus feature and the use of those two different processors. The system is much better than I thought from the diagram above.
It turns out that both processors can choose to be Focus or Surroundings, it depends on the situation. The decision on which is based on a presence of a speech signal. That is really interesting because it opens up other possibilities for the use of the two separate processors. Possibilities that could lead to whole new strategies for handling speech for better perception.
The demonstrations of the sound processing, of which there are many on YouTube, are hugely impressive. The devices appear to make conversation and speech understanding easy in situations where you would expect real problems. The video below is a rather impressive demonstration of how the system handles quite intrusive motorbike noise.
Two Hearing Aid Models, Three Technology Levels
The new platform is available in two device models across three levels of technology. The models are the Pure Charge & Go AX and the Pure Charge & Go T AX. Both hearing device models are Receiver In Canal and the T has a telecoil onboard. Both devices appear pretty discreet and disappear behind the ear. They have also introduced a new ear wire design that fits the face better and helps with retention in the ear canal.
New Chargers, Including Dryer
Signia now offers three chargers with the AX, a simple desk charger, a charging case not unlike the charger used with the Styletto and a combination dryer and charger case. That's a great idea as many RIC users were tieing themselves in knots trying to dry and charge their aids using two separate devices. I would imagine the mobile case and the mobile dryer and charger case will probably cost extra. Believe me, it will be worth it!
New Bluetooth Experience
The AX offers direct audio streaming from both iPhones and certain Android phones, which is a step forward. I don't know if the Bluetooth radio onboard is ready for the introduction of Bluetooth 5.2 and all of the cool abilities that brings. However, it would seem quite remiss of Signia if it wasn't. I will reach out to them to try and find out more.
The App and Signia Assistant
Like many of their aids before now, the AX has an app that offers the Signia Assistant amongst other features. I mention the Assistant here primarily because of some of the feedback I have heard about it. Users love it, they feel it offers them true in the moment control over their hearing aids in a really simple manner.
I plan to do a further article on the machine learning and rudimentary artificial intelligence being used by Signia and Widex in the future. It's enough to say that it appears to be making a huge difference to users and their satisfaction.
The aids look nice, the chargers are great and the sound strategy is fascinating. Time will tell but the AX platform looks pretty good on the surface. Like us on Facebook by clicking the button below to keep up with our latest utterances. Alternatively, if you don't like Facebook, sign up for the newsletter below. It is important to remember, a hearing aid isn't properly fitted unless they do Real Ear Measurement.