If you’re hard of hearing, you probably already know the frustration of missing package deliveries because you can’t hear the doorbell. Or perhaps you’re straining to hear the turn-by-turn directions on your phone. Traditional hearing aids don’t help much either, as they’re mostly directional — you need to be facing the sound source to hear anything. Oticon’s OPN, however, could be the solution to that. Not only is it able to receive sound from multiple different sources from all around it, it’s also supposedly the first internet-connected hearing aid. This means it could work with all manner of connected-home devices to make your life that much easier.
Oticon’s OPN companion app works with the web-based service IFTTT, so you can create all manner of recipes that’ll hook the hearing aid up to whatever internet-of-things gadget you have in your home. So if you have a Ring doorbell, you can set it up so that it’ll trigger your hearing aid when pressed. Or maybe your Nest smoke alarm so you’ll know if your kitchen is burning. Or maybe just your smart washer/dryer so you know when your laundry is done. And because you’ve hooked the OPN up to your phone, you can also listen to turn-by-turn directions much more clearly.
As for the sound performance, OPN works on a platform called Velox, which Oticon says is the first sound processing system that lets users listen to multiple conversations without having to face at someone directly. While normal hearing aids use just one or two beams, the OPN uses 16 channels for its “OpenSound Navigator” application. I saw a demo here at CES, and what I found particularly remarkable is how slim and low-profile it is — you can barely see anyone’s wearing it. It looks really discreet when worn.
The OPN debuted last year around May, but the company introduced two new versions of the OPN — dubbed the OPN1 and the OPN2 respectively — just a couple of months ago. The OPN1 and OPN2 are slightly more affordable versions of the OPN, though the tradeoff is that they’re less flexible than the original OPN. As for how you can get them? You’ll have to talk to your audiologist, and pricing will vary depending on your insurance provider.
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