The Danish manufacturer Oticon is a leader in innovative hearing technology. The seed for Oticon’s commitment to people first began in the early 20th century, when Hans Demant brought state of the art hearing aids from England first for his wife, and then as an importer to increase accessibility for others in Denmark. Oticon expanded its scope in technological research and design following World War II, with Demant’s son William leading the way. Currently, the Ericksholm Research Institute informs the designs and inventive technology instilled in Oticon hearing aids, most recently the ground-breaking BrainHearing Technology.
Oticon’s BrainHearing Technology was developed to address these inconsistencies and to assist the brain in making sense of the signals we consistently receive. BrainHearing Technology simulates the experience of binaural hearing for the brain, by taking sounds in from both ears to situate the wearer in their environment, while also sorting through competing noise. Along with other technology developed by Oticon, which will be explored below, BrainHearing Technology paves the way for more ground-breaking technology in hearing aids.
How the brain hears.
For years, researchers in the field of hearing have acknowledged that hearing occurs in the brain. The ear receives sound waves, amplifies them, and inner ear hair cells translate them into neural signals sent to the brain. With normal hearing, a robust, clear signal is registered and catalogued by the brain as sounds that we recognize. Daily sounds, such as a dog’s bark, a gust of wind, the slam of a car door, are all learned and archived audio data that have followed this auditory process. When hearing begins to change, the signals sent to the brain are no longer as clear and strong. As a result, the brain receives gaps in the transmission and therefore struggles to fill in the signals to make sense of the inconsistencies.