The market for hearing aids is fed with scores of manufacturer brands and product models. Although they all serve the same basic hearing aid function, each product price differ due to its technology input, piece functiolalities and ultimately, the power of choice. Consequently, no particular brand can be described as the “best”. While leading companies in the industry are Siemens, Phonak, Resound, Sonic Innovations, Starkey, Widex and Oticon, other companies include Hansaton, Unitron, Elkon, Audibel, Beltone, Insoundmedical, Rion and several others.
Some of their features are;
Siemens (now Sivantos): This German Company’s mission is to improve the life of hearing impaired persons through innovative solutions. Their Signia brand features durable, quality hearing aids with Bluetooth and binaural technology. Some of its products have been designed to automatically adjust to the users’ motion. Its volume control and battery recharge system as well as other user options enhance the products’ utility.
ReSound: GN ReSound is a Danish company that has even produced exclusively for iPhone. It has been in business for about 70 years. It is an innovative trail blazer in the industry as far as digital technology is concerned. Many of its landmark technological achievements have become widely adopted by rival manufacturers. Its assorted accessories have such distinct features that enhance connectivity with other devices.
Widex: It is a Danish manufacturer whose products are acclaimed for their rich sound quality. Its premium brand has been noted for its cutting edge design, aesthetics and extensive product research. Apart from product durability, a distinctive widex sound feature is a signature for its products.
Phonak: This Swiss manufacturer is part of the holdings of Sonova Group, owners of Unitron Hearing. The company which started out as manufacturers of hearing aids for children has consistently improved its products for the use of all age groups. Its products are popular for their quality, technology design, innovation standards, performance and portability.
Starkey: This American company also produce exclusive brands for iPhone. Its products are renowned for their custom designs. It leads the pack of manufacturers of miniature hearing aids. The fact that the company’s products are designed for comfort has endeared them to many who are discreet about their disability. The company holds commercial interests in Audibel, Micro-Tech and Nu-Ear, brands in the same business. The company funds the largest hearing aids charity in the world.
Oticon: This is a Danish company noted for its superior brand models. While the products are designed to deliver sound as naturally as possible, power functions and its accessories are reduced to the barest minimum. The company focuses more on product utility than on commercial gains. It is a subsidiary of William Demant Holdings.
Sonic: Sonic Innovations is a US based maker of hearing aids. The subsidiary of William Demant Holdings makes superior quality brands, notwithstanding that it is barely 20 years in the industry. The company offers small and discreet products for its ever growing list of clients, and comes highly recommended by audiologists.
The choice of which hearing aids to use also largely depends on the preference of the audiologist consulted. So, while individual lifestyle, hearing needs, priorities and taste may define individual need, product features, like external and or discreet design, comfort and ease of use of the product as well as power features may also be key determinants as to choice.
As far as technological innovation is concerned, the 1990’s is a decade that witnessed most changes in the music industry. Those years are marked by an unprecedented increase in the available mass media options such that the art was enhanced by new technologies, bringing radical changes to the concept of music production and at the same time taking a big leap into the future of the industry. The precursor of the avalanche of technological innovations of these times was the digital revolution in the electronics industry.
First, mono-purpose phones gradually gave way to the more compact versions with more user features like Bluetooth, radio, calculator and other functionalities. The internet further rose from its erstwhile obscurity to become the super information highway of the century. Its embrace by most western civilizations as the rave in digital communication did not help the matter either. The icing on the cake appears to be the invention of the Pentium chip by Intel, and besides which manufacturers of hardware included CD burner features as well as CD ROM drives to their computers.
These innovative developments virtually transformed the music of the 90’s. Whereas the music industry is hitherto dominated by experienced adults who could play the instruments and arrange their songs with little or no outside help, the boy band and the teen sensation groups who need no previous experience now made their debut in numbers. The glut of musical technology saw charlatans becoming armchair musicians as electronic music gained popularity. Dance floor beats were no longer accepted as such, but only became suited for relaxation. New genres of dance music emerged.
In the spring of the year 1998, the Mp3 device was introduced as a portable media player. It is an electronic digital audio player that can play digital audio files without the use of a computer. Towards the middle of the year 2000, the Mp3 device has overtaken the Compact Disc (CD) player in popularity. Patrons of the technology, mostly the younger generation of music audiences had opportunities to endorse their music preferences, namely the popular music of the 90's that made overnight stars of these latter group of musicians. In fact, between 1997 and 1999, teen pop stars and groups took over the stage.
Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, NSYNC, Boyz II Men, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Aaliyah are some of the hot numbers that gained prominence as they appealed to the younger generation audience. Till date, technology still plays a key function in our choice of personal music as all the different kinds of beats and instruments that hitherto had to be played by talented individuals are now generated through the touch of a computer button, beautifying the lyrics. The advent of the internet and the emergence of the new media have since the 90's brought about the discovery of such talents that may never have been discovered but for their emergence.
Artistes need no longer possess skills with musical instruments, nor come with a good voice as computerized sound mixers and special microphones now add exceeding creativity to voice output.
Hence, technology continues to shape our choice of music.
The combined force of the internet, new media and technology therefore continues to unveil talents that would have remained undiscovered in the recent past. No wonder that today, any opportunity to listen to music made in the 90's or prior to that time leaves a nostalgic feeling, when compared with today's output from the industry.