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High Tech Help for Hearing

Boot Camp feature for Monday, June 16, 2003

High tech help for hearing. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. A little computer in your ear. Digital hearings aids are gaining market share among people who suffer from hearing loss. At the Danish manufacturer Widex, the latest model is called the Senso Diva. Director of training and development Rose Bongiovanni... says the technology in the tiny device is able to manipulate audio signals...

"So that we can deliver very clean, clear, crisp processing capability. We can also deliver some directional intelligence. For example, if a person is in a crowded room and there's some background noise going on, this directional intelligence uses two microphones built into a tiny little hearing aid and automatically changes the sensitivity of the microphones so that you receive the maximum amplifications of the sounds coming from in front of you while the amplification or sensitivity is reduced from the sounds coming from the sides or in back of you."

The adjustments are controlled by the microchip automatically...

"So you don't have to push a button or carry a little remote control around with you."

Widex has plenty of competition from companies such as Siemens and Sonic Innovations. The problem for many consumers is price. The high tech devices can sell for about three thousand dollars... triple what many traditional analog hearing aids sell for. And very few health care plans will help with the payments. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.