The Bionic Sound Project

this girl’s journey to sound

Who Designed Advanced Bionics’ Auria? Friday, November 10, 2006

Filed under: accessories,advanced bionics,information,links,media,research — Allison @ 10:56 am

I used to be an industrial design major, so I check out what’s happened in the world of design every now and then.  I’m interested in the medical products divison as I worked on a team project for a competition that had to do with healthcare.

IDEO is the industrial design company that everybody dreams of working for. It has been referenced through multiple fields of study throughout my college career, not just the design classes, but in my Organizational Behavior class as well.

So, while surfing the web, I was surprised to find out that they were responsible for the design of Advanced Bionics HiRes Auria.

Advanced Bionics HiRes Auria: Silver, Medical & Scientific Equipment

Contact: Scott Underwood, IDEO, 650.289.3409,

Credit: IDEO and Advanced Bionics

People with sensorineural hearing loss who have cochlear implants (electrodes surgically implanted in the coiled chamber of the inner ear) must use sound processing devices to hear. This system offers customizable covers that snap on and off to either mask or decorate the device, for both children and adults. Programs for different sound environments are accessed with the flip of a switch and the unit can be configured to work with various audio inputs, power supplies and microphones. The system also comes with ear hooks to make the fit more snug.

  • The device also has a visual confirmation that the processor is working with the implant.
  • There is a version specifically for children.

Learn more about IDEO, check out the following links:

IDEO’s official website

Wikipedia Entry

BusinessWeek Article on how IDEO is changing the way businesses innovate


A DNR Order is Needed for the T-Mobile Sidekick Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I spent the night at the emergency room with my soon-to-be-90-years-old grandpa. While in the middle of a phone call to my mom through the relay, my Sidekick decided to stop working.

The radio GPRS “detached” from the phone, and would not reattach, even with restarting and other troubleshooting. I could not connect to the internet, much less make a phone call through relay on AIM. I have had ongoing problems with the sidekick for the last two months, if not the last 4 years (30+ replacements within warranty periods). Sidekick b/w, Sidekick color, SKII, and now the new Sidekick 3…each one has had so many problems and negatives to it, that I have yet to hear enough positives to outweigh it. The new one isn’t any better.

To make a long story short, I had to retrieve my mom’s ancient, bare-bones cell phone from her car, because I had her car with me, use the speakerphone, and try my best to have a conversation with her, because the CI is not compatible with the phone, but I can hear with the speakerphone. I’m amazed that this simple piece of technology is so reliable and works fantastically, compared to this high-priced, overhyped gadget that is nothing but trouble.

The conclusion to all of this is that I am not going to get the Sidekick 3. I’ve started doing some research into other smartphones/PDAs, because I am not at the level where I am ready to understand speech and have a conversation on the phone. But as far as I am concerned, the Sidekick is never going to be a reliable phone, no matter how many incarnations they make of it.

Basically, this whole situation just deepens my resolve to be able to hear and understand speech. This is what the CI is for. I want to be able to pick up a phone ANYWHERE and be able to have a phone conversation with anybody, without having to rely on a keyboard to type my words out and get my message across. I don’t want to rely on other people to have to “voice” my message or “type” it for me onto a screen. I want to express myself and I want to hear others express themselves.

I want independence.

P.S. I think the Blackberry Pearl will be my choice, as Blackberries have been totally awesome (spoken as a previous user of the RIM 850, which I had first, before the SK), not to mention reliable due to their primary audience of government and major corporate clients. It comes out on Sept. 18th on T-Mobile, but a full-QWERTY keyboard is not expected until Q1 2007. Reliability, same features as SK3, and a cost of $199 vs $350 for the sidekick and its unreliability? I think I’d take the crackberry, only if it is CI-compatible.

P.P.S. new sound: listening to the college freshman almost continually vomit from drinking too much, as the paramedics were holding his head outside the room my grandpa was in. yay first week of school parties.


Advanced Bionics vs. Cochlear Americas Thursday, June 22, 2006

Needing to make a decision between Advanced Bionics and Cochlear Americas. So far I’m leaning towards Advanced Bionics, because I had decided on that back on March 13, 2005…So, as a result of the information that I’ve gathered (correct me if I’m wrong on anything)

HiResolution BionicEar System – PROS
– has one electrode array without a positioner (Freedom has a positioner…and the CDC has talked about an increased risk of meningitis in children post-implant with positioners, but this was in reference to pre-2002 implants made by AB)
– fires multiple electrodes at once (Freedom fires one at a time)
– reportedly better with music quality/tones (super important to me)
– batteries are the most-cost effective ones in the industry, and I’m a bit of an environmentalist, so this makes me happy.
– if i go river rafting or away from civilization, I can switch to an AA-battery which will provide power for 1.5 days (with the Power-Pak). For me, AA batteries are cheaper and easier to find than hearing aid batteries.

HiResolution Bionic Ear System – CONS
– the one major con is that the reliability can be of some issue as compared to Cochlear (~1% of implants fail)…but if it fails, AB will pay for replacement.
– not splash-proof (big negative, i love water!)
– not as many “extras” in terms of accessories (in my opinion)
– Cochlear seems more deaf-centric than AB (as in they understand their needs better)
– battery life is short compared to Freedom (will have to recharge it daily, and change battery twice a day with the 8-hour batteries)

The major reason I think I am going to go with AB – the sound quality. It seems like the audiologists/doctors that I have seen/talked to in both states have suggested that Advanced Bionics would be a better match for me.

Another important thing to note, Advanced Bionics has a new 120-channel processor coming out in November 2006 (hopefully). I did a search on this and found a beta tester’s journal about their experience with the 120-channel processor as compared to the Auria. They said that they were sad they had to give it back, and couldn’t wait for it to come out.

However, there is something to be said for the company (Cochlear) that was one of the pioneers of the cochlear implant, and also has the highest-number of implantees in the United States. They really laid the groundwork for all of it, so I give applause to them, and thanks for getting the ball rolling.

There is a third implant company called Med-El, but it is not for me.

Everybody has to do their own research and make their own decisions, but I think Advanced Bionics is going to be mine for sure.


Temporal Bone Research and Pineapples On Pizza Sunday, May 14, 2006

Filed under: deaf,deaf community,information,links,research — Allison @ 2:01 pm

When I die, I want to donate my temporal bones to this organization. I think it’s a great cause for deafness research. All deafies, you guys should consider doing this as well.

Oh, and just to make this clear, pineapple does not belong on pizza. Pineapple is a fruit. Therefore, fruit does not belong on pizza. (unless, of course, it’s a dessert pizza with a cookie base) The only exception to this rule is tomatoes.

So, if you order pineapple on pizza, I will have to hit you.


Hearing Aid Woes, and CI stuff Monday, March 13, 2006

To make a long story short, my hearing aids are messed up.

Remember this entry where I talked about battery problems? Well I found out why today. I’ve had my hearing aids for about 8+ years, and the normal lifespan of hearing aids is around 3 years. They were awesome ones…the Widex P38s.

So, my options are that I need to either:

1. get them fixed (at a cost of $130 per hearing aid, with no guarantee they can be fixed)
2. get brand new ones (at a cost of $1,100 per hearing aid)
3. get one brand new hearing aid, get one fixed, and then get the cochlear implant.

The Hearing Aids/Cochlear Implants I’m Looking At (For My Degree Of Hearing Loss)
My only demand is that they *must* be compatible with my iPOD. Can’t live without it. And if I get a CI, I need to be able to plug both the CI and the hearing aid into my iPOD…I wonder how that’s going to work. :-/

Digital Hearing Aids

Oticon Sumo DM
Oticon Syncro 2 Power
Siemens Triano SP

Cochlear Implants

Nucleus Freedom
Advanced Bionics Auria
And a new cochlear implant is coming out this summer from Advanced Bionics that has 120(?) channels, as compared to the current implants that are 22-24 channels.

My first choice from when I went through the evaluation last spring was the Auria, and then the Freedom. I was already declared a “very good candidate” on March 24, 2005. I am scared to death, but at the same time, this might be something that I should do, especially since I have till the age of 26 to get nearly full coverage on the implant from my insurance company as long as I am a full-time student. The new genetic technology/hair-cell growth that they’ve got in the guinea pigs and chickens is still anywhere between 10 to 20 years off. And I realized that by then I will be 33 or 43…why wait that long? Especially since I have so many years ahead of me right now, in this moment.

Advanced Bionics is said to be better with music. And the new 120 channel one sounds really promising. But if you really want to listen to music, digital hearing aids are the way to go. I’m afraid to lose my ability to listen, recognize, and differentiate the sounds in music. I still want to be able to play the piano and the drums and be able to appreciate the full range of tones and sounds.

I spent nearly 4 hours at the Hearing Aid Shop today…first getting new earmolds…waiting 30 minutes for my appointment, then nearly 2 and half hours in the audiology booth doing testing and trying to reprogram my hearing aids, without much luck. Then he called my mom and talked to her about what was going on.

The normal battery drain is 1.5mA…mine was at like 3.6 and 2.7…which was really bad. And for the test, it was doing these things he had never seen, with sharp spikes and drops at each frequency point till it leveled out to what it’s normally supposed to do. And all those batteries that I kept replacing? They’re all good…practically brand new. We tested them in the charger.

I can barely hear in one ear, and the other one is okay…I finally switched them around, since I’m more left-ear-dominant (even though my hearing loss is greater in that ear), so now I can hear, but it sucks. I have to wait between 10 to 14 days to get my new earmolds. then I have to get a new audiogram, then test out the digital ones for awhile and see which one I like. After that, I can get started on the CI stuff. Oy vey.

Hopefully I can have the CI surgery this summer (with the Auria or with the 120-channel)…either at St. Joe’s, or Mayo Clinic.

In addition to all that, there’s screwup over the serial # of one of my hearing aids…apparently it’s listed as being on the shelf at Widex, and the one they have listed as me wearing now, I don’t even have on. And the first number (off of my records) belongs to another person. I need to call and trace back all my audiology records.