Launched in August 2017, Sonoma's low-voltage wireless chip provides direct connectivity to cell phones including Android, iPhone and even classic cell phones – with no extra body-worn streaming device required. With this chip, Advanced Bionics' sound processors become compatible with any Bluetooth 4.2 or older phone or TV. This option also has the lowest power consumption of any Bluetooth Classic device used in hearing instruments and works seamlessly with Sonova proprietary 2.4 GHz wireless protocols, including Roger, for hearing in noise and over distance, and AirStream technology, enabling a new plug-and-play solution for high-quality TV streaming with excellent stereo sound quality.
Sonova, headquartered in Stäfa, Switzerland, is a leading provider of hearing care solutions and technologies. The group operates through its core business brands Phonak, Unitron, Hansaton, Advanced Bionics and AudioNova, and offers one of the most comprehensive product portfolios in the industry – from hearing instruments to cochlear implants to wireless communication solutions. Founded in 1993 and a subsidiary of the Sonova Group since 2009, Advanced Bionics develops cutting-edge cochlear implant technology designed to help children and adults with significant hearing loss enjoy clear, high-resolution sound, optimal speech understanding in noisy settings and an outstanding music experience.
“By offering a solution to the entire market – including the more than 80% of the world’s smartphone owners who purchased Android devices – Sonova becomes the first and only major hearing solutions company to unlock the enormous potential of universal direct connectivity,” says Lukas Braunschweiler, CEO of Sonova. “Our chip will be the foundation for a wide variety of unique and innovative solutions in the coming years.”
The SWORD chip simplifies users’ lives by offering them the freedom of direct connectivity, truly hands-free calling, and excellent TV sound quality. Further, this Made for All solution means that Sonova brand users (Phonak, Unitron, Hansaton, and Advanced Bionics) are free to select their cell phone technology based on their personal preferences, and not the compatibility of their hearing instrument.
Sonova’s breakthrough chip SWORD employs the most-advanced semiconductor process ever used in hearing device manufacturing. With more than 42 million transistors placed on less than 7 mm2 of silicon, the low-voltage radio chip has the lowest power consumption of any hearing aid using Bluetooth Classic. This is made possible through the introduction of 40 nm CMOS technology, combining one radio chip and one antenna to power all applications. SWORD runs multiple communication protocols to choose the best solution for any specific application: Standard Bluetooth (Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth LE) protocols to connect to hundreds of multimedia audio sources, proprietary protocols such as AirStream for a true plug-and-play solution with excellent sound quality for TV streaming, and ear-to-ear communication protocols supporting binaural applications. The cutting-edge chip is future-proof, capable of supporting advancements in wireless features and a world of digital service solutions, such as distance support, for future generations of hearing devices.
With the introduction of SWORD technology, the lives of Advanced Bionics patients will be simpler, thanks to hands-free voice calling. Users can answer or reject a phone call by simply pressing the Push button on their hearing instrument. The ringing of the phone is heard through the hearing instrument and, once the call is accepted, the conversation is instantly streamed. The wearer’s voice is picked up by an intelligent microphone network and transmitted to the other caller, similar to the way a wireless headset works. All this is done without ever having to touch the phone.
The new TV Connector, which uses proprietary AirStream technology, is a state-of-the-art compact multimedia hub that seamlessly connects wearers to their favorite TV programming for an immersive audio experience. It’s a true plug-and-play solution that automatically turns a pair of hearing instruments into wireless TV headphones. The TV Connector is also capable of connecting to multiple listeners simultaneously, making it ideal for watching TV together.
The new solution addresses the more than 23 percent of hearing instrument wearers ages 50+ who own a classic cell phone. Universal connectivity to any cell phone is especially important considering the intense growth in smartphone ownership over the last decade.
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