Phonak ComPilot - Professional Hearing Services

Phonak ComPilot - Professional Hearing Services
Phonak ComPilot
The smart 3-in-1 accessory
Why are wireless transmission technologies needed?
People with hearing loss want to be able to participate freely
in all the activities of daily life. This includes having troublefree access to standard communications and entertainment
systems, such as land-line and mobile telephones, televisions,
MP3 players, radios and other audio equipment, all in
excellent sound quality. Wireless transmission systems can
make this possible. Phonak is the longstanding market leader
in the field of wireless signal transmission for hearing
instruments. For several years, the wireless communication
interface iCom has offered easy Bluetooth connection
between Phonak hearing instruments and a variety of audio
sources and telephones. With stereo quality sound, wideband
Bluetooth audio and data transmission and optional FM
connection, the device offers multiple wireless connectivity
options for a wide variety of entertainment and
communications devices. When making a call on a mobile
phone, for example, the Bluetooth signal is received from the
phone and wirelessly transferred to both hearing instruments.
Even hands-free calls are possible with the built-in
directional microphone.
For people with sensorineural hearing loss, communication in
situations involving background noise and/or larger distances
can often be difficult. In such situations, an FM system, a
longstanding wireless option, can enhance speech
understanding. Previous studies have shown that FM systems
can improve speech understanding by 10-20 dB when no
hearing instrument is being used, and around 12-18 dB beyond
the use of a hearing instrument alone [1] [2] [3].
Remote controls continue to be an important part of a
hearing system for many users. In addition to offering a
convenient control alternative, they can sometimes be a
necessity, given the miniaturization of hearing instruments
which sometimes makes on-board manual control difficult or
entirely unavailable -- thus making manual handling more
Phonak introduces an all-in-one remote control/audio
interface, Phonak ComPilot, which can be controlled by the
user with only a few buttons, and offers unique new features
as well.
Well-known problems related to telephone use, such as the
exact placement of the handset close to the hearing instrument
microphone, frequent feedback, poor sound quality, and
monaural-only transmission, can be overcome with the use of
the latest wireless transmission technologies. The latest
generation of digital hearing instruments enable true binaural
signal processing using wideband audio. Furthermore, FM and
Bluetooth signals can be transferred (streamed) directly to the
hearing instruments via an interface such as iCom [4].
With iCom, Phonak offered, for the first time, a modern
communication interface, not just for mobile phones, but also
for Bluetooth-enabled audio devices such as telephones, laptop
computers, MP3 players, televisions, GPS and home
entertainment systems. The communication link between the
audio device and iCom is wireless and uses standard Bluetooth
technology. iCom converts the received signal into a signal
based on Phonak transmission technology, which can be
received by compatible hearing instruments. This allows
wearers of hearing instruments, for example, to receive calls on
mobile phone calls directly in both ears, with a higher level
clarity. As acoustic transmission from the phone receiver to the
hearing instrument microphone is not necessary, there is a
significant and measurable improvement in sound quality in the
ear [4].
With the new ComPilot, Phonak now presents an interface with
many additional and unique options, facilitating more than
8 hours of audio streaming
before needing to recharge
the battery.
September 2011 •1/3
Phonak ComPilot and Phonak TVLink S basestation
Phonak ComPilot is also a remote control
The new Phonak ComPilot together with the TVLink S
basestation, a new television interface, represents the latest
technology in the stereo transmission of audio signals. Signal
quality has been optimized in regards to transmission delay, so
there is now neither a perceptible loss in sound quality, nor a
noticeable transmission delay. This ensures that hearing
instrument wearers experience no echo effects and that what
they hear matches what they see on the screen (e.g. lip sync
issues). During transmission, the analog audio signal is coded
for Bluetooth and transmitted from the TVLink S basestation to
the ComPilot. This signal is converted to the Phonak HiBAN
Technology (Hearing instrument Body Area Network) used by
the hearing instruments. When the signal is received, it is
processed by the hearing instruments, amplified as appropriate
for the hearing loss and delivered to the ear of the wearer.
Wearers of Phonak Spice and Spice+ hearing instruments can
also use the Phonak ComPilot as a convenient remote control.
To ensure ease of use, Phonak ComPilot has only a few easy
controls. The most striking feature is the large main control
button in the center, which lets the user switch between the
individual hearing programs. When audio-streaming or
telephoning, the same large push button can also be used to
control phone calls or audio sources.
Figure 2: Phonak ComPilot manual controls
Figure 1: Phonak ComPilot and Phonak TVLink S basestation
Phonak ComPilot uses a dual-microphone system
When making hands-free calls, it is important for both the
caller and the recipient of the call to understand what is being
said. Unlike most other audio interfaces available on the market,
Phonak ComPilot has an optimized, true dual-microphone
system, not just an omnidirectional or single directional
microphone. The Phonak ComPilot is thus the first audio
interface to use the multi-microphone technology developed
originally for hearing instruments. Since there is a reasonable
distance between both dual microphones, the Phonak ComPilot
can generate a narrow directional pattern upward to the mouth
of the wearer. This makes it much easier for the call partner to
understand the ComPilot user, even in difficult acoustic
September 2011 •2/3
Two other large, ergonomic buttons are available for volume
control. When the “Home” button is pressed, the hearing
instruments activate the start-up program. A fifth function
button is available for making outgoing phone calls with a
wireless land-line telephone (e.g. DECT Gigaset). This button
can also be assigned to other Bluetooth functions. The Phonak
ComPilot can easily be switched on and off using the on/off
slider. Two indicator lights inform the user of the most
important operating states. The Phonak ComPilot allows fast,
secure and very discreet control of the wireless interface as well
as remote control of the hearing instruments.
Phonak ComPilot speaks and understands
As the first audio interface of its kind in the hearing instrument
industry worldwide, Phonak ComPilot has a built-in text to
speech generator, which can translate written text into speech.
This allows for the transmission of clear informational messages,
such as low battery status or other important information. The
user, for example, is informed that the Phonak ComPilot is
connected to an FM receiver. If the phone supports the function,
the name of the caller is read out as it has been entered in the
mobile phone’s phonebook (caller ID). This takes mobile
telephony to a new level – in the car too – as, for the first time,
the caller ID is available without needing to be able to see the
phone’s display. The new speech generator is a very useful tool,
which allows for a whole new level of convenience.
With the ComPilot and TVLink S, Phonak has once again
demonstrated its commitment to the ongoing improvement of
its products and the development of innovative solutions that
are unique in the market and benefit both users and Hearing
Care Professionals. Users can connect the Phonak ComPilot to
almost any available audio or TV signal source. They can make
truly hands-free phone calls, and when the phone supports this
function, the built-in speech generator identifies and
announces the caller.
Phonak ComPilot can easily be operated using just a few large
buttons, with the direct transfer to the hearing instruments, the
system adjusts the signals automatically to the individual
hearing loss. The wide Bluetooth transmission distance of up to
30 meters, together with excellent audio quality and the long
battery life of more than 8 hours round out a uniquely versatile,
multi-function accessory.
September 2011 •3/3
© Phonak AG, All rights reserved
[1] Phonak Focus 34
[2] Crandell, Smaldino & Flexer, 1995
[3] Thibodeau L, American Journal of Audiology,
Vol 19, 36 – 45, 2010
[4] Phonak Field Study News, iCom, July 2009
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