Oticon launches Opn hearing aids and Velox platform

April 13, 2016
Press Release

Speed, power and connectivity open up the world for the end-user

With Oticon’s launch of Oticon Opn™, the technology and features of hearing aids have taken a giant leap forward in favour of the end-user.

Technological limitations of current hearing aids have led to the use of tunnel directionality: Speech coming from the front is clear, whereas the rest of the sound environment is suppressed. This results in a limited, narrowed and artificial listening experience. With new, groundbreaking technology, Oticon Opn™ is fast and precise enough to analyse and follow the soundscape and differentiate between sounds. Even in complex listening environments, this allows Oticon Opn™ to constantly open up and balance individual sounds to deliver a rich and meaningful soundscape, empowering the brain to choose on which sounds to focus. Directionality as we know it has become a thing of the past.

“This is a major step forward in technology and end-user benefits. With Oticon Opn, we have created a paradigm shift by overcoming a challenge that even the most advanced solutions of today haven’t been able to solve, namely the ability to handle noisy environments with multiple people speaking. In our commitment to People First, we have created the world’s best hearing aid, which every hearing impaired person should have to be able to interact actively in even the noisiest sound environments. This launch confirms Oticon’s position as the innovative industry leader in hearing care technology and audiology,” says Søren Nielsen, President of Oticon.

Ultra-fast and powerful sound processing platform

Designed specifically for hearing aids, the Velox™ platform is a technological quantum leap forward – extremely fast and powerful. Fast enough to follow rapidly changing conversations with multiple speakers in a noisy sound environment by analysing and processing sound data 50 times faster than Oticon’s previous premium hearing aid. Market-leading 64-band frequency resolution enables a more precise sound analysis and better sound quality to support the brain’s ability to make sense of sound.

The new OpenSound Experience is delivered by OpenSound Navigator™ combined with Spatial Sound™ LX. The new OpenSound Navigator™ scans, analyses and reacts to the sound environment more than 100 times per second, balances the speech sources and removes noise – even between words. Users can now follow the sounds they want to hear and shift their attention when desired. New 200% faster binaural processing allows Spatial Sound™ LX to help people locate more precisely where sounds are coming from, a well-known problem for people with hearing loss.

Significantly better speech understanding of multiple speakers in noise

With this new hearing aid, Oticon takes a fundamental step forward in improving speech understanding in complex environments while, at the same time, preserving the user’s mental energy. Preliminary data show that Oticon Opn™ provides a significant leap forward in improving speech understanding in situations with several competing speakers and background noise compared to Oticon’s previous premium hearing aid. This is evidence to the strength of the new OpenSound paradigm: The possibility to both provide full access to sounds in the environment and at the same time improve understanding. Even when deploying aggressive directionality and noise reduction algorithms, current competing technologies cannot achieve both access and understanding.

In tests, Oticon Opn reduces the load on the brain and improves the ability to remember conversations. Using pupillometry, a recognised objective measure of how loaded the brain is, Oticon Opn™ users had – in testing – 20% less listening effort when trying to understand speech. Additional studies show that because Oticon Opn™ users have freed up brain capacity, they remember 20% more.

First dual-radio technology

Oticon Opn™ introduces the world’s first dual-wireless communication system in one hearing aid, an innovative first in the industry, enabling the best possible audiological performance. This new technology called TwinLink™ provides the benefit of streamer-free connectivity while ensuring high performing, binaural communication and related audiology as well as ultra-low battery consumption.

The new Near Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI) system in Oticon Opn™ is 200% faster than the previous Oticon premium hearing aid, allowing much faster binaural processing – a key user benefit. The direct streaming technology uses 2.4 GHz Bluetooth Smart direct streaming for wireless streamer-free communication, with the highest level of sound quality and wireless programming. Developed specifically for hearing aids, this variant of Bluetooth Smart uses significantly less battery power when streaming to smartphones and other external devices. The free, downloadable Oticon ON App allows users to connect to smartphones and other external devices without a streamer.

Internet-connected hearing aid

Confirming Oticon’s innovative edge, Oticon Opn™ is the world’s first hearing aid that connects to the internet via the If This Then That service (IFTTT.com). Users can connect to a wide range of IFTTT-enabled devices used in everyday life, such as door bells, domestic lighting systems and a variety of home appliances. Oticon Opn™ provides users with a solution that will enable them to use their hearing aids with a growing number of IFTTT-compatible products and services, as they become available.

“With TwinLink, Oticon Opn is the world’s first hearing aid combining the best of two worlds – a completely new Near Field system allowing much faster binaural processing and the best possible audiological performance combined with directly streaming 2.4 GHz technology. This makes Oticon Opn the leading hearing aid offering – second to none. Together with the If This Then That service, Oticon Opn enables users to connect to a world of endless opportunities,” says Søren Nielsen, President of Oticon.

The new Oticon Opn™ premium hearing solution will be available in the popular discreet miniRITE™ style covering the widest variety of end-user needs. Products will be available in shops from the end of the second quarter 2016.

About Oticon

500 million people worldwide suffer from hearing loss. The majority are over the age of 50 while eight percent are under the age of 18. It is Oticon’s ambition that our customers -hearing clinics throughout the world - prefer to use our products for people with impaired hearing. Through passion, dedication and professional expertise, Oticon develops and manufactures hearing aids for both adults and children. Oticon supports every kind of hearing loss from mild to severe and we pride ourselves on developing the most innovative hearing aids in the market. Headquartered out of Denmark, we are a global company and part of William Demant Holding Group with more than 11,000 employees and revenues of over DKK 10 billion. www.oticon.com



Oticon ON for Apple iOS:

Oticon ON for Android:

I think they could improve on the name - perhaps something for the next version!

They make it sound like a cure for dementia so the scaremongerers who tell people they will develop dementia without HAs will love it.

Not sure why I would want to control my programmable lights with my hearing aids. (I actually do have a programmable lighting system and it is just trouble now that it is 15 years old. Turns lights on and off at random and switches just decide not to work for a few months at a time then miraculously work again. Great when the system was new but terrible once it started to age and things started to malfunction. One time I could not turn off my bedroom lights for 36 hours and once I could I wasn’t game to use that switch again for a year.)

I am sure the hype will sell quite a few so real people results will filter through some time in July I guess.

When a manufacturer does an upgrade like this I always wonder if the new HA’s provide way better performance compared to the same manufacturer’s most recent models. It seems particularly hard to get that question answered since most users wearing the last most recent models are not ready for an (expensive!) upgrade yet. Someone who IS ready for an upgrade will have been using technology that is two or three upgrades ago. Of course the brand new technology will sound much better to them. Oh well. I guess you pay your money and take your chances. Thank you for posting this, Rasmus.

What most of the big companies won’t admit is that they have hit the upper part of the tech curve in purely in terms of sound processing. More significant advance is costly/impractical/unreliable.

In order to retain ‘progress’ you move the goalposts. Placing hearing aids in the expanding ‘wearables’ market is one way of doing this.

Programmable devices are known to be easily hackable most lacking any encryption. I wonder who will be the first Opn user that has to pay .5 bit coins to be able to hear again. :eek:

Interesting news is that in noisy environments with multiple people speaking the new aid balances the speach sources and removes noise - even between words. My auspice : with two microphones/each aid.

I think we are in a good spot right now, and one that will probably see benefits for a couple of more years.

Siemens sold their hearing aid business and the new company surely wants to get as much of a return as they can. Normally, the companies would measure and strategize on when to come out with the good stuff, and if the competition doesn’t push them they are free to roll things out gradually. The buyer of the Siemens business may have pushed out the good stuff earlier than the norm for the industry, so now what do the others do? They may feel forced to come out with their better stuff now, rather than later, so they don’t fall behind.

So Oticon jumps. Now I would expect Resound to go, then Phonak. If Starkey has anything up their sleeve, this is the time for them also, or they risk falling way back. Not sure about Widex.

I don’t know anything about the internal politics at Demant, but does Oticon now give the technology to Bernafon?

When I was talking to the Bernafon engineers, albeit several years ago, they get the same hardware but they implement their own software interpretation based on it.

Just think, someday we’ll have to manage the built-in firewall that’s included. Maybe even SSL encryption features too. :slight_smile:
No thanks, not for me.

We will know about end user improvement within a month. I have about 100 test subjects that will have Opn on within a few days of availability. New product release timing has nothing to do with performance improvements of competitors. Oticon has the next 4 generations of technology already mapped out. I’m sure the other brands do as well. They release a new product or a new product line because sales on their existing product release slow down below a certain threshold, which may or may not be due to other brands product releases. When Oticon released Alta back at the beginning of 2013, then Nera in the Fall, and then Ria in early 2014, sales on Ria started to eclipse Nera too quickly, and their average selling price dropped too low, and didn’t start to bounce back as quickly as it had in the past. Which was a key factor in why they released the Inium Sense product line in its entirety all at once at the beginning of 2015. If that hadn’t happened, Inium Sense would not have been released. They would have waited until this year to begin the Velox platform release cycle.

End user feedback statistics already support that Inium Sense has a higher user satisfaction rate than any other platform currently on the market, including Primax, including Kirkland, including Synergy, including Unique, including Linx2, including Venture… And Oticon had the largest increase in market share out of any of the big 6 in 2015. But the one big thing that Oticon has never believed in, is shooting for niche markets. Thats why they don’t currently offer a wireless CROS. Thats why they don’t put frequency lowering in ALL of their products. But with a user satisfaction rating in the high 90 percentile (When the next closest competing product is in the low 80 percentile - still good historically), and with integrated bluetooth connectivity growing in popularity and decision-making importance, it is time to give people what they want…

By the end of June I will be able to give some real-world end user feedback from people who have been wearing Alta2 Pros, Unique 440s, Muse i2400, Linx2 9, Audeo V90s, and Primax 7-series.

this should be good

New interesting document http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/ABEA-4C7PH1/0x0x885992/DC52F27A-740A-4FCD-AFEF-A91B49767881/WDH_AAA_investor_presentation_Final_mcm.pdf (also see ConnectClip on page 18)

OMG, 64-bands. Doubledown will wet himself.

But no narrow beam directionality ? This means that directivity index figures can’t be trumpeted !!!

I thought it was all about to signal to noise ratio !! (as a layman).

No. Its like the info sheet said, narrow directionality, as other brands implement it, is not always effective and in some cases it introduces its own challenges. And it is dependent on predictability of the situation. In other words, if you are in a narrow directionality program listening to the person in front of you, you are likely to completely miss what someone says off to the side as they walk in the door.

By the way, narrow directionality was first implemented by Oticon over 10 years ago with the Epoq product line. Granted, it has been improved over the years and narrowed further, but Oticon has had research for years that narrow directionality is not the end all and be all of understanding in noise.

Understanding speech in noise as a function of Signal to noise ratios is a VERY simplistic way of looking at the problem. It is only two dimensional. Signal… and… Noise. But in the real world, that “noise” could be made up of one signal itself, or it could be, as we say, “complex”, made up of many “signals”. Understanding those signals is more a function of being able to isolate and separate them, so your brain can deal with them each individually. Think about it. The purpose of narrow band directional mics is to isolate ONE signal from all of the others so that you can understand it. Same thing with remote microphones. It is an attempt to isolate ONE signal from the rest. This CAN be useful. Just like a Roger Pen (Phonak) can be useful. But it is not natural. It is not how our brains work. Hence why nobody wants to carry around a Roger Pen pointing it at everybody… or a remote mic, passing it around the table from person to person. Also the same reason that completely occluding an ear canal and then processing and filtering ALL of the sounds in the environment is not comfortable for most people. It creates a cognitive dissonance. Your brain KNOWS that the environment should not be completely muffled like that. So it is uncomfortable. Thats why Open fit hearing devices were developed, and custom venting…

Anywho… I can guarantee the devices will still feature tri-mode directionality in their feature set (including narrow directionality). But as I have said before, its not what you do with the hardware. Its what your software does with the sound information it collects from the environment.

Thanks for the heads up Justin. I have to say, I am seriously impressed by the (UK) NHS hearing aids - Oticon Spirit Zests that I have. Although they are I guess a mid range equivalent, they are just as good as my Phonak Venture aids. And I agree, narrow band directionality doesn’t really help if you are in a crowd surrounded by noise, especially circular, speaking alternately. The ventures are good, but that nut hasn’t been cracked unfortunately. Here’s hoping for a paradigm shift with the Oticon Opn.


It will be a big paradigm shift.

Hardware-wise, in one big swoop, they have put Widex, Siemens, Resound, and Starkey in their place.

113dB max input A2D converter - Takes away Widex’ one hardware advantage. It never translated into better real world performance for the vast majority of people anyway, but now they can’t even make the argument.

64 bands - Takes away Siemens “resolution” argument. Research has always shown that more channels and bands did not improve speech clarity, but now all the spec junkies out there will be satisfied.

2.4 Ghz streaming - Takes away the only feature that Resound and Starkey had over Oticon. And they did it much better. Minimal loss of battery life. No new programming interface. No new receiver, same physical size device (smaller and more attractive than Halo2 or Linx2). More reliable binaural communication… Voice activated, internet connected…

Justin, you seem to be saying that Oticon is emphasizing features that don’t make a difference in the real world, but add lustre in term of tech hype.

I don’t care about connectivity or streaming. I do care about quality of sound, and prefer natural sound to processed sound as much as possible. does this new aid address any of that?

To clarify…

Features do not account for the majority of real world benefit. Benefit is in the results.

The reason I was mentioning features is because I see so many people, both in this forum and out, that focus so much attention on it. Even some of the manufacturers tout their features a lot. Siemens has been touting their binaural beamforming narrow directionality feature for a couple years now. Resound and Starkey have been touting their wireless connectivity/streaming feature for a couple of years now. Every time Widex comes into my offices they won’t shut up about their analog to digital converter… Ultimately, none of these features have resulted in any of these brands outperforming Oticon hearing devices. But patients keep hearing these buzzwords at my competitors and inevitably they come into my office and ask me about them. “Why are you recommending Oticon with 16 channels when I was just over at the Miracle Ear store and their devices have 48 channels?” “I was just at Costco and their device doesn’t have to use a neckloop to stream from my iphone.” All of these buzzwords and technical features just serve to muddy the waters for consumers. The challenge is that I basically have to explain to people constantly, “The number of channels is just a bragging point. It doesn’t really make a difference in real world benefit” “Yes, with Oticon you have to have a neck loop. But on the plus side, your battery lasts a lot longer, your hearing aid is smaller, and it sounds much clearer when you’re trying to understand what people are saying.”

Oticon’s emphasis has always been on what you just said… sound quality. And by that, I mean, speech understanding. The ability of the wearer to UNDERSTAND the words they are hearing. To get the most accurate clarity possible from their hearing devices. Not features. If you read the marketing pages/product announcements that have been linked to earlier in this thread, you will notice that Oticon emphasizes (puts in larger, more colorful lettering) the PERCENTAGES of improvement. That is a BENEFIT. “20% easier to listen” is a benefit. “20% improvement in memory” is a benefit. “30% better speech understanding” is a benefit.

The specs I listed above are hardware (feature) improvements. Oticon didn’t emphasize these items - they simply listed them on a spec sheet for nerds like me (because they don’t mean much to most consumers). I emphasized them because I found it interesting that the hardware improvements they did make seem to target the specific features that other manufacturers preach about so much.

If you don’t care about connectivity or streaming, I applaud you. I don’t care about these things personally, either. Like you, I prefer natural sound; but even more than that, I prefer UNDERSTANDING what people are saying. Oticon devices have done this better than any others, and with this new platform, they will do it EVEN BETTER. I don’t know much about your specific situation, but I am looking at your use of the phrase “natural sound”… Just keep in mind that with a hearing loss like yours, unless it happened overnight, you probably don’t know what normal natural sound is. In your right ear, you are hearing things VERY DISTORTED. So remember that any time you put on a different hearing aid (The new Opn included) , it will sound different than you are accustomed to. Does that mean the new device doesn’t sound natural? Or does it mean your hearing was jacked up to begin with and what you are now hearing IS natural?

“Oticon’s emphasis has always been on what you just said… sound quality. And by that, I mean, speech understanding.”

Happily, despite the hearing loss in my right ear in particular, my word recognition tests at 100%. So my notion of sound quality is somewhat different than yours, although I readily grant that speech recognition is paramount in terms of HA performance for the majority of wearers, I’d guess.

Your point about my ‘not knowing what natural sound is like’ is well taken. I’ve had this loss for decades. I only started wearing an Oticon hearing aid in my right ear about 14 years ago. I still wear that aid. Now, I’m going to buy aids for both ears. this is completely new to me.

what’s natural? who knows.

I’m all for advancements in HA technology, believe me. I hope that this new platform will do just that. I won’t be able to afford them, so I’ll watch from the sidelines. Whichever new aids I get should be an improvement on what I wear now, so I’m looking forward to that.

Look, I’m new to recent hearing aid technology. I guess that I’d like the emphasis to be on the ‘quality’ (richness, fullness, spectrum) of sound rather than connectivity and streaming. But I can hear voices on the phone and tv and such, plus my speech recognition is good, so it’s easy for me to say this last bit; not so easy for others who have problems with all of this. I’m grateful for any technology that improves peoples’ ability to comprehend speech in particular.

I guess I look forward to the marketplace offering exciting new advances in mimicking analog sound, really; or, giving me back the sound that people with normal hearing have. This is what I was hoping the game changing platform would emphasize. Maybe in a few more years this will be ‘the new thing’. Of course, we always have to recognize the limits of what’s possible at any given time!

You’re right that I might not recognize sounds as being ‘natural’ right off the bat if I heard them; but even now I can tell when sounds seem artificial and highly processed. My Oticon aid seems really good at delivering pretty natural sound. I haven’t compared other brands (except for a quick test at Costco last week) so I’m out to sea in this regard; that’s the problem with buying new aids when you haven’t compared brands over the years.

Again, I’m grateful for the great sound that all of the HA’s are able to deliver; we’re all lucky this way, historically speaking.