In an announcement today Widex has introduced a brand new hearing aid platform that they are calling the Evoke. The details are scarce, however, the really interesting announcement is that the platform will use cloud-based artificial intelligence to continually improve the sound for users. I truly believe that this is one of the 2018 innovations that will change the future of hearing aids.
We have spoken before about continued innovation in hearing aids and what we would expect future hearing aids to offer. Oticon, Signia and now Widex have all begun to innovate beyond the hearing aid to ensure better hearing. By that, I mean that they have all looked strongly at how they can leverage wireless connection to Smartphones to deliver a far better hearing experience. Each one of the brands has done different things, however, the common theme is to expand the functionality by piggybacking on the Smartphone functionality.
Machine Learning and Hearing Aids
I have spoken about this subject several times in the past elsewhere. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have been revolutionising many industries and medical fields. The tipping point of converging technology within the hearing aid industry that we are now at is ideal to introduce this type of process to hearing aids. Widex have completely broken with the rest of the industry to seize the moment and introduce what could be a stunning step forward in hearing aid technology. It remains to be seen exactly what they have done and how in-depth the feature is, however, it has to be seen as a massive step forward nonetheless.
Machine Learning Concept
As I said, I spoke elsewhere about machine learning as a concept, in essence, my vision was that the hearing aid user would move through their days using an app to change settings and customise them as they move through different sound situations. Each customisation would be stored in the cloud alongside thousands of other user's customisations and preferences. Over a period of time, these data points would be used to push changes to the automatic features in the hearing aids and the user's experience would become seamlessly better. Judging by the Widex announcement, that is what they visualise. Here is the announcement:
Today, leading Danish hearing aid manufacturer Widex, announces the launch of the ground-breaking WIDEX EVOKE™ – the first hearing aid to ever feature advanced machine learning technology in real time. Together with major advances in sound technology, WIDEX EVOKE™ provides a clearer and more personal hearing experience than ever before. Hearing happens in real life, not just in a lab or in a clinic examination room. The challenge of real-life hearing is that it is personal and happens right here, right now. That requires the hearing aid to be able to adapt and adjust seamlessly and instantaneously. For the first time ever, it is now possible for a hearing aid to learn from the user’s input and preferences – and even share this learning with other users around the globe.
WIDEX EVOKE is the first hearing aid to give users the ability to employ real-time machine learning, featuring intuitive new controls that quickly and surely guide users to their desired hearing experience. With WIDEX EVOKE users don’t have to remember issues with specific listening situations to explain to their audiologist when getting their hearing aid adjusted later.
New SoundSense Technology means users just tell WIDEX EVOKE what sounds they prefer by choosing between sound suggestions provided by their smartphone EVOKE app. The powerful WIDEX EVOKE processor then uses this data to deliver even better real-life sound, based on the user’s personal preferences when they need it, in real time.
What’s more, the combination of user input and machine learning enables WIDEX EVOKE to evolve and become even smarter as time passes. And over time, all EVOKE hearing aids will be able to learn from anonymous global user input to improve the real life sound experience even further.
“WIDEX EVOKE will forever change what people expect from hearing aids. I firmly believe that WIDEX EVOKE marks the beginning of new era in hearing aid technology – a new way of thinking. It is the first hearing aid that is truly intelligent and grows smarter as you use it. EVOKE not only learns on the level of the individual device but also across the devices in the EVOKE eco-system. The perspectives and the potential are breath-taking: Just imagine an EVOKE user in Paris benefitting from the input of an EVOKE user in Sydney. You can say that WIDEX EVOKE is the world’s first hearing aid that is intelligent today – and even smarter tomorrow”, says Widex President and CEO Jørgen Jensen.
WIDEX EVOKE will be offered in a full range of form factors and will become available in all major hearing aid markets beginning late April and continuing through May and June 2018.
Widex Announcement 17/04/2018
I am looking forward to hearing much more about this system and to see it in action. As always, as I learn more, I will keep you informed.
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Posted by Geoff
Geoffrey (Geoff, anything else makes him nervous) Cooling is an Irish hearing aid blogger and has been involved with the hearing aid industry for over ten years. He has worked in private practice dispensing hearing aids and as a manufacturer's rep. He has written two books and they are both available on Amazon. He loves technology, passing on knowledge and is legendary for many other things, primarily the amount he curses, his dry and mischievous sense of humour and his complete intolerance of people who are full of themselves. Please feel free to connect with him
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