The Latest on Small Hearing Aid Technology

If you have put off getting hearing aids because you're expecting the clunky instruments of years gone by, it's time to reconsider today's hearing aid technology. Manufacturers have been working hard to reduce the negative stigma of hearing aids, and one of the ways they have done so is to make them smaller than ever.

The Latest on Small Hearing Aid Technology

by Dr. Kevin Ivory

What defines a small hearing aid?

Small hearing aids fall into two categories: Invisible-in-canal (IIC) and Completely-in-canal (CIC). IIC hearing aids are slightly lower than CICs, but they both share similar strengths.

Both types of hearing aids are implanted deep into the ear canal to ensure that sound travels faster and more accurately to your eardrum. And even though they sit deep within the ear, they are designed to be removed nightly before bed.

Here are some of the advantages of CIC and IIC hearing aids:

They're discreet - If you're concerned about the appearance of behind-the-ear hearing aids, IICs might be a good option as they help you reap the benefits of hearing aids without advertising your devices to the world.

Easier phone use - In CIC and IIC instruments, the microphone is deeper into the canal and therefore further away from the receiver of a phone. This allows the user to hold the phone in a more natural position and can reduce feedback.

Great for active lifestyles - People with a highly active lifestyle might also find that smaller hearing aids work well in their daily lives. Specially made for your inner ear, they are designed to be comfortable and safe and won't fall out of your ear or get stuck in your hair. Without fear of damaging your hearing aid, you can run, easily talk on the phone, or do anything else!

Your voice may sound more natural - Small hearing aids with deeper insertion may reduce the occlusion effect, which is a feeling of pressure in the ears when wearing certain hearing aids.

Latest models

If you're interested in small hearing aids, here are some of the latest models on the market in 2020.

Oticon OPN IIC

This is the IIC version of Oticon's flagship OPN range of hearing aids. By modifying the form and the size of the hearing aid, as well as the size of the internal technological components – Oticon has managed to produce its smallest hearing aid ever.

Research from two independent studies shows how Oticon Opn empowers people to engage effectively in the same loud environments as people with normal hearing, such as restaurants and similar, previously too stressful situations. This is all due to the OpenSound Navigator technology that helps people with hearing loss to interact with multiple speakers while reducing their listening effort significantly.

With Oticon Opn hearing aids, when you are in a noisy setting, like a restaurant, you can understand speech more easily. Plus, just like most people, you hear the sounds all around you, and you can intuitively pick what to concentrate on.

Starkey Picasso IIC

Starkey was one of the pioneers of the IIC hearing aid onto the market, so they already have a head start among the other manufacturers. The Picasso bears the same quality of sound as the Livio range of the equal company; it also comes with the same connectivity capabilities and a battery that can theoretically last for two weeks!

Although it lacks the AI features that the Starkey Livio AI model brings, with its near invisibility, it compensates for that nicely. It's made to match individual ear canals, and small enough to be almost undetectable once worn.

Signia Silk Nx CIC

The Signia Silk is the latest iteration of a model that is now smaller and more powerful than ever. Signia calls this a "discreet, instant-fit hearing solution with the highest level of sound quality."

Based on Signia's Nx technology platform, the new Silk is designed to provide a natural hearing experience for wearers. And the unique binaural technology is intended to allow for a clear understanding of speech, even in noisy situations. Silk Nx hearing aids also allow natural directionality and wireless streaming between both ears to ensure wearers hear what's most important.

Unitron Insera IIC

This is the smallest custom hearing aid available from Unitron. This new family of in-the-ear hearing aids, based on Unitron's Tempus platform, is personalized to you.

Every ear is unique and different, and Unitron's groundbreaking EarMatch modeling method optimizes microphone directional output to the precise ear shape of a patient so that you can hear every word of your conversations. The Insera also boasts a 20 percent longer battery life, which supports around 16 hours of additional use.

Written by
Reviewed by
Dr. Kevin H. Ivory
Audiologist & University Instructor
Read full bio

Dr. Kevin Ivory, Au.D., CCC-A received his Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He then went on to earn his Doctor of Audiology degree from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, one of the top 10 audiology residential programs in the country.

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