HiRes Auria for Advanced Bionics
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Modular earpieces for cochlear implant sound processors
Cochlear implants restore hearing to deaf and hearing-impaired adults and children, but few people want to wear the accompanying orthopedic-looking hearing aid. This was the finding of Advanced Bionics when its own prosthetic appliances started losing market share to a competitor’s more attractive product. The firm called upon IDEO to create an improved device that would suit both young and old and create a signature look for the company.
The result is the HiRes Auria, a device that can be made invisible for older adults or serve as a fashion statement for young people and children. Modular covers come in 20 colors, including techno, metallic, and youth-oriented hues, which can be matched with clothing to turn the unit into a fashion accessory, or blended with hair color. The unit is also available in sports versions. The design offers a more comfortable fit, modular power supply options, audio input choices, and an improved interface for selecting programs for different auditory environments.
For teachers and parents of children using the Auria, the Firefly audio earhook, which can fit even the tiniest of ears, gives visual confirmation that the processor is communicating with the implants. For adults who use Auria, a choice of three ear hooks provides access to assistive listening devices, cell phones, and consumer electronics. The modularity of the product has allowed Advanced Bionics to minimize the costs of enhancing user options. A better fit with user needs and lifestyles has broadened their market and increased sales. The design has coined an iconic brand image, giving the company a unique position in the market.
Industry side note: Recent studies reveal that toddlers (age 3 1/2) who received cochlear implants at an early age demonstrated greater facility of the spoken language. (Ear and Hearing, June 2006)
Project date: 2004