BLAMEY SAUNDERS HEARS INVENTS THE WORLD’S FIRST BEAUTIFULLY DESIGNED SELF-FIT, MODULAR HEARING AID
Monday 5th March, 2018. MELBOURNE. Blamey Saunders Hears today unveiled Facett, the world’s first beautifully designed self-fit, modular hearing aid. Led by two Melbourne scientists, Professors Peter Blamey and Elaine Saunders, Blamey Saunders Hears partnered with leading Melbourne universities, and has been assisted by the Federal and Victorian State governments, to produce a breakthrough in hearing technology.
Named for its faceted appearance which was inspired by natural forms in Museums Victoria’s mineralogy collection, Facett consists of two components. The "core" is the brains and contains the user's settings, and the "module" contains a rechargeable battery that activates the hearing aid. Users can disconnect and connect the module with a simple click.
Blamey Saunders Hears IHearYou® system means there’s no visit to the audiologist required. People can optimise their settings for their listening preferences on a smartphone, tablet or Windows computer.
Facett is a huge leap in progress for the four million Australians suffering hearing loss, many of whom aren’t using hearing aids because of appearance, repeated and frustrating visits to suppliers for hearing aid tuning, and the inconvenience and complexity of changing batteries.
“Blamey Saunders Hears is on a mission to help Australians hear better at an affordable price. Facett is the culmination of decades of work, and the many scientific advances we’ve made in hearing. Facett is a true collaboration between science and design. It’s part of a digital health system that empowers people to self-manage their hearing experience. We’re also very proud that Facett has been designed in Victoria and is manufactured in Victoria.” said Professor Elaine Saunders, co- founder of Blamey Saunders Hears.
A true Australian partnership
With the aid of the Federal Government’s Accelerating Commercialisation grant, a team led by Professors’ Peter Blamey and Elaine Saunders has addressed hearing health barriers with Facett, an innovative device that users can tune themselves.
This unique collaboration between Blamey Saunders Hears, Extel Technologies, RMIT University and Swinburne University brings hearing aid design and manufacture to Victoria.
Designer and RMIT PhD researcher Leah Heiss found her inspiration among Museums Victoria’s mineralogy collection, and has worked to remove the perceived stigma of conventional hearing aids. Heiss said, “This is about design to improve life. Facett is beautiful and I hope the user will be proud to wear it.”
To celebrate the launch, a free Facett display is being housed at the Melbourne Museum between 1- 4pm from March 6th to March 9th complete with the nature forms collection and free hearing testing so people can try out a Facett hearing aid themselves.
- Facett is a revolutionary hearing aid that is self-fit, modular, beautiful and easy to use. The “core” contains the sound processing chip and user settings. The module contains a rechargeable battery that lasts all day on a single charge, and can be easily connected and disconnected from the core.
- Facett works with a range of Blamey Saunders Hears telehealth tools that reduce the cost and service accessibility barriers to better hearing health.
- Facett aligns with Australia’s Digital Health Strategy to "put the consumer at the centre of their health care and provide choice, control, and transparency.”
- In a world first, clients can access future Facett features without buying a brand new hearing aid; optional features will be released in new, interchangeable modules that can be used with the existing core.
- Users can program Facett themselves, no trips to the audiologist required. It is part of the award-winning IHearYou® system, so people can optimise their settings for their listening preferences on a smartphone, tablet or Windows computer.
- Blamey Saunders Hears uses teleaudiology so that anyone living anywhere from the city to rural Australia can access Facett and receive programming support. They can instantly connect with an expert remotely, so there’s no need to schedule or travel for an audiology appointment. People can also access Facett from a clinic and receive clinician advice and testing.
Assistance from the Victorian State Government
Blamey Saunders Hears received a Small Technologies voucher in 2012 from the Victorian State Government. This voucher allowed the company to prototype the concept of a modular hearing aid connector at the Advanced Manufacturing Precinct at RMIT University. The outcome was not a functional design. Without this grant, the prototype stage would not have gone ahead. It highlighted the technical challenges to be overcome.
Assistance from the Federal Government
Blamey Saunders Hears was awarded funding under the Commonwealth Government’s Accelerating Commercialisation Grant (AC, AusIndustry) in 2016 for the further development and commercialisation of the Modular Hearing Aid (Facett). This grant was matched by the company, but without this grant the project would not have proceeded. Other partners Blamey Saunders Hears identified Extel Technologies as the most appropriate manufacturing partner for the project. The company partnered with the ARC Training Centre for Biomedical Devices at Swinburne University, and PhD student Jonathon Miegel helped solve the remaining technological challenges in the hearing aid’s modular connection, accessing the resources of Swinburne University’s Factory of the Future.