Audiology Now! 2013 – Where was Everyone?
AAA’s Audiology Now! 2013 is the world’s largest professional audiology gathering. It is an essential annual feature for suppliers, professionals, researchers and students to learn, mingle, eyeball one another and share the latest ear-gags.
Except that one could not help but feel that this year’s conference was emptier than usual. Due to the huge floor space? Or the lure of Disneyland in the Easter holiday? Or perhaps it’s the economy, stupid. Perhaps I’m just plain wrong, because – as usual – there were some real gems to be found.
Since the big guns of audiology will blast you with their favoured marketing messages, here are the highlights (vetted by me, and therefore to be taken with a pinch of salt) that you may not see on a flyer dropping into a bin near you.
Best Product – Nanocoat your Cares Away
If a Teflon frying pan ever got jiggy with Michael J Fox’s DeLorean, you’d get something like Integrated Surface Technologies’ Blue Lantern. Without doubt this was my favourite of the show. Not to mention that Fred and team also challenged for the most enthusiastic guys on the floor. Bouncing, entertaining and marvellously charming, there is no doubt that Fred is the real thing: a one-man Patent engine from the USA, guided by pure specialised materials knowledge, years of experience, total expertise and dedication. Engineering and creativity at its best.
So what does Blue Lantern do? The answer is to imagine dropping your phone in the loo (it will happen to you one day and costs companies like HSBC hundreds of thousands of pounds a year). You now have approximately 0.005 seconds to rescue your social life from a watery grave. (And sucking the water out of the microphone hole is not only unsavoury but ineffective, by the way).
Now consider having 10 seconds at hand before your submersible phone dies – you could even put some rubber gloves on. You’d have hours before your SLR camera left in the rain died. Likewise your iPad.
Quite simply, IST brings plasma-based nanocoating to the table-top: protect your valuables invisibly, instantly and internally without affecting performance or invalidating a warranty. I think audiometers, FM systems, and so on. Whatever your application, it is a great opportunity to preserve and protect an investment.
If you want to know more, we can put you in touch.
Most Eagerly Awaited Product – Low-cost Micro-Suction
One thing that continues to confuse is how many audiologists are content to send a patient with wax away for curettage or cleaning.
- Will they ever come back?
- Does the patient understand why you can’t help them?
- Who are they paying for the treatment?
- And so on.
Intuitively this is wrong from customer service point of view and from a commercial point of view.
Happily, the Bionix micro-suction tool is a part of a cost effective solution. So cost effective, in fact, that the savings compared to a traditional micro-suction rig could fund the associated training. Add to this, the Bionix talking point of integrated magnifier, lightsource and so on and you have the perfect solution for occasional or frequent use.
Please note that PC Werth is the Bionix agent for the UK & Ireland, so we have a massively vested interest, but considering the enquiries we still get to chase CE marking on this system – having flashed this tool last year – we thought you should know that CE marking is due at the end of May.
Best Advance – See More
Otoscopes – one of THE indispensible pieces of kit for anyone with an interest in ears. And the traditional device has much to commend it: portable, robust and high definition (courtesy of the human eye). However, Otoscopes make it tricky to share your observations (with patient or colleague), let alone store the information for your records.
This is why PC Werth sells hundreds of modern, PC-based Video Otoscopes per year at less than £320 each, despite some minor compromises:
- Until now, decent VOs are tethered to your PC by USB cable
- Until now VOs tend to be in the “pencil” configuration, rather than the traditional gun shape (which is more suited to bracing the patient)
- Until now VOs tend not to have a view finder – you have to look at your PC to see what you are doing
So here is a promising real world advance that ticks all the boxes:
- Traditional shape supports bracing
- Viewing screen
- Wireless with dock for auto-upload to PC
- Focus wheel under your trigger finger
- High resolution
Best Real-World Health Solution….. is now the time for the Anti-Hearing Aid?
Etymotic Research launched The Bean at AAA. The Bean is their Quiet Sound Amplifier…..it is at this point when the hearing aid industry traditionally observes:
- Personal amplifiers are not hearing aids and should not be sold as such (We say: this is true – a hearing aid is a hearing enhancement product tailored to maximise communication abilities, taking into account a person’s individual hearing loss. Amplifiers use predefined generic settings to help improve a person’s hearing. Amplifiers and hearing aids are different things)
- Our beloved NHS dishes out free hearing aids and there are very cost effective hearing aid solutions available privately. (We say: this is also true, although free does not mean without cost. Time and travel expense are both significant costs. In particular, time is the one thing that can be invaluable – especially considering that the hearing aid pathway is not short and even mandates a follow up appointment.)
- A Personal Quiet Sound Amplifier and cannot compete with a hearing aid in terms of performance (We say: that depends on what the patient is looking for. Some estimates cite the number of unused hearing aids as high as 40%, which would indicate a hearing aid is not always the solution. In addition, there are those with gradual onset hearing impairment who are in denial – the “hearing aids are for deaf people, but I do find that people mumble these days” story. A flexible solution that helps someone hear their mumblers is both appropriate to their current circumstance and a step in the right direction towards taking the more comprehensive control of their loss that is a hearing aid.)
So maybe The Bean is the ultimate anti-hearing aid: perfect for those not ready for a hearing aid, but still a beneficial first step towards long-term hearing enlightenment. Let me know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The alternative best product is Beyond Tinnitus – a new tinnitus management system, with some validation. However, at this stage, we need to do some more consultation to be able to comment.
And finally, if you have read this far, don’t forget to read the authorative review of AAA and the instruments on show, by Lawrence Werth that will be a fortcoming edition of ENT and Audiology News.
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