Long over due for the hearing aid world, rechargeable hearing aids are now with us.
Rechargeable Hearing Aids!
New Development – Rechargeable Technology
Hearing aid development comes at such a rapid rate, and is often difficult to keep up with. One such development, which was long-overdue, was the incorporation of rechargeable technology into hearing aids.
For quite a while, batteries and the tedious procedure of removing and inserting them, have been a nightmare for hearing aid users. As age develops, dexterity often begins to decline, which can cause difficulties in some of the daily hearing aid maintenance tasks.
So How About Never Changing Batteries Again?
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Manufacturers such as Phonak, Oticon, Unitron and most recently, GN Resound, have all brought out their rechargeable hearing aid products.
Unitron have opted to go with silver-zinc batteries, which are actually the same size as conventional hearing aid batteries. This means users can switch freely between their rechargeable batteries and their non-rechargeable counterparts. This is handy as it means, even if the rechargeable batteries run out, you’ve still got the reassurance of being able to use normal hearing aid batteries. Hearing aid users often have a spare pack in their jacket pocket in case of emergency, and Unitron’s technology ensures that you always have two options to power your hearing aids.
In terms of charging, Unitron, like other manufacturers, have gone with a plug-in dock, whereby users simply drop their hearing aids into the slot, and induction plates do the charging. This means the rechargeable batteries never actually need to be removed. Unitron have based their charge times on the average day spent awake, which is approximately 8am to 10pm. With Unitron’s new rechargeables hearing aids, just 6-7 hours of charge time gives 24 hours of use. This should prove more than sufficient, as it covers an entire day, regardless of sleep patterns. Rechargeable options are available for models: Moxi Fit R and Moxi Stride F R
Phonak rechargeable hearing aids use a built-in rechargeable battery, meaning it’s not removable and cannot be swapped with regular hearing aid batteries. The battery itself is lithium-ion and Phonak claim it has 40% more power than ‘conventional’ rechargeable batteries. Phonak further claims that, not only are their rechargeable hearing aids the quickest to charge, but also have the longest battery life. Charging for 3 hours gives the hearing aids 24 hours of life; which is half the time taken by Unitron’s rechargeables. What’s more, just 30 minutes of charging time gives 6 hours of battery life, for those occasions when you’re in a hurry.
In terms of the hardware, Phonak have released two separate bases. The first, main base is called the Phonak Charger Case. Unlike other manufacturers, Phonak have opted for a closed charging case which closes with your hearing aids inside. The second is the Phonak Mini Charger, which is exactly what is says on the tin; a smaller charging unit whereby users simply drop in their hearing aids when not in use.
Additionally, they have the Phonak Power Pack, which attaches to the bottom of the main charger; giving it significantly more power for when a power source may not be available. Rechargeable options are available for models: Audéo B and Bolero B
As of yet, Oticon haven’t launched their rechargeable option; though they plan to later this month. All we know so far is that Oticon will, most likely, release a technology similar to Unitron and Phonak’s, but are expected to adopt the Unitron Silver-Zinc battery technology, which is interchangeable with regular hearing aid batteries. What’s more, current OPN hearing aids are expected to be retro-fittable with the new rechargeable technology, which means people already using OPNs can get a swift upgrade. Oticon have also developed the new Velox platform for signal processing; which essentially reduces the effects streaming has on battery life; meaning users can stream for longer. Rechargeable options are available for models: OPN and OPN Mini-RITE
GN Resound has also begun producing rechargeable batteries for their aids. Similarly to Oticon, the batteries and the charging base is provided by Z power. GN Resound are taking a similar approach to Unitron with their rechargeables being interchangeable with regular hearing aid batteries. Also similar to other manufacturers, Resound are claiming 24 hours of charge time.
Rechargeable options are available for the model: Linx 3D