Oct 2017 Australian Business Review, EFTM, AppleInsider and 9to5Mac

Patients wearing revolutionary Australian-invented Cochlear implants will soon enjoy speech and music delivered straight from an iPhone to their brain. Apple said its accessibility ­engineering team had worked with Cochlear to adapt a special form of Bluetooth low-energy audio (LEA) that links an iPhone with the external part of a new Coch­lear system known as the Nucleus 7 sound processor. The Nucleus 7 was launched in Australia on Oct 25th.

The project has been under way a long time. Apple first mentioned it was working with Cochlear on a Made for iPhone hearing aid at its Worldwide Developers Conference in 2012. The breakthrough involves making sure that Bluetooth connectivity doesn’t rapidly exhaust the hearing system’s battery. In the past, the only way an iPhone could link to a Cochlear implant was through a third device — extra technology that users had to carry with them. And they couldn’t monitor the Cochlear system from their phone. Now they will be able to receive phone calls, listen to iTunes music, watch movies and make FaceTime calls on their iPhone through the new hook-up.

Checking the Cochlear’s status on an iPhone.

iPhone iPhoneOn-phone sound controls 

Retired IT project manager Mark Moretti, 61, from Ingleburn, NSW, has trialled the new system for a year. “It’s just so much more convenient not having the battery go flat on you which was one of the biggest problems,” he said. Cochlear chief technology officer Jan Janssen said the Nucleus 7 had other features. A hearing tracker lets parents know how many hours a Cochlear-wearing child is exposed to speech each day. “It’s really important that the brain gets used for this type of stimulation,” Mr Janssen said. The Cochlear app had a “find my sound processor” function which let wearers geolocate the external part of the Cochlear system on a map. It’s similar to Find My Phone.

Apple’s director of accessibility Sarah Herrlinger said accessibility had been part of Apple’s DNA from the start. “It’s something that we are really passionate about as a company,” she said. “We consider it one of our core corporate values, an area where we put significant amount of time and energy ensuring our products work for everyone. “We started looking at this program around the concept of Bluetooth Low Energy and how it would be a beneficial tool in this specific circumstance. The work we have done is applicable both to hearing aids and sound processors.”
She said many Cochlear patients had both a hearing aid, and cochlear implant on the other side. “We made this work when you may have two different devices, it may even be from two different companies.”

Ms. Herrlinger said the development work was undertaken by the Apple team and Cochlear in the US and Australia and across multiple companies with hearing aid products. The integration work took place over 2 to 3 years.
While Apple had worked integrating an iPhone with hearing aids, Cochlear was the first to connect a sound processor with. an Apple device. The Cochlear system works with the range of iOS devices - recent iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch models.

iPod TouchA patient wearing a Cochlear Nucleus 7 sound processor watches a movie on an iPad.

A recipient can now make calls, Facetime, listen to music in stereo, watch videos and even get the navigation from the phone when driving.

iPhoneOne additional use for this technology is something called “Live Listen” which uses the iPhone of the user and if they place it on the table or hand it to someone else, the microphones in the iPhone allow the implant recipient to hear clearly the conversation going on. It’s a very simple thing, but it’s a credit to Apple who seem to go over and above many others when it comes to accessibility on their devices.




July 2017

Business Mirror and the news.pl

People with cochlear implants gave a concert at the World Hearing Center near Warsaw on as Poland marks 25 years since the first such device was implanted in the country.

Music score 

MUSICIANS from all over the world recently converged for the “Beats of Cochlea” festival, where they showcased their talents, shared their love for music and received mentoring from world-class peers and professionals. What made the music festival extra special is the fact that it was especially created for people with hearing loss to fulfill their musical dreams. The performers represented a wide range of age groups, backgrounds and playing experiences, but all of them had one thing in common: They all use a hearing-implant in order to hear, appreciate music and experience the sense of sound as a normal hearing person should.

 Music students

Morta and guitaristMorta (right) being mentored on guitar by a professional musician

Polish surgeon Prof. Henryk Skarżyński, who heads the World Hearing Center, said that 25 years ago, his hopes for implant patients were that they would be able to hear and understand speech. “Today we hope that they will be able to pursue … musical careers,” he said, adding that this showed the progress that has been made in the field. Skarżyński also said that it was also proof that music was therapeutic and sped up therapy.

Following the success of the inaugural festival in 2015, this one-of-a-kind international music festival continues to demonstrate that, with today’s achievements in modern science and medicine, even those with severe hearing loss can live out their passion for music. Including those from the Philippines, participants—aged 6 years old through to 39—came from the UK, Poland, China, Greece, Taiwan, Ukraine, Portugal, Russia, Germany, Austria,Singapore and the Phillipines. All of them sing, compose and play one or multiple instruments, such as the violin, guitar, piano, flute, drums and guzheng, a traditional Chinese instrument. Some were inclined to jazz, while others have a passion for classical, with the rest seeking rock-star status or pop fame. Although having unique hearing-loss journeys, a shared passion for music brought these people together from around the world.

This year the festival adopted a new and improved format, which included vocal and instrumental master classes with professional musicians from around the world. Within the four-day meet, the musicians shared their experiences with festival attendees. The event concluded with a gala concert where participants performed the musical pieces they developed during the master classes. Hearing-implant recipients who qualified to the festival included Filipina Maria Sharlene Morta, 17, who sang an original composition with her own guitar accompaniment.  Others were: 39-year-old Eva Costa from Portugal, who played the flute; Kazakhstan-native Chingiz Agibaev, aged 6, who performed a vocal piece; and Charlie Denton, 10, from Gloucestershire, UK, who is a master with the violin and piano.

Morta is currently Grade 11 at San Beda College Alabang (SBCA). In an e-mail interview, the teenager said she loves to play different musical instruments, such as the piano, guitar, violin and ukulele. “I also love songwriting, which leads me to appreciate music more. And I used to dance ballet, contemporary, hip-hop and jazz.” According to her mom Shalini, the prodigy passed Grade-7 piano and Grade-5 theory examinations of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) of London in December 2016 and 2014, respectively. With these, she is qualified to teach primary levels of ABRSM students.  The young Morta also passed with merit the Grade-2 guitar in ABRSM. Likewise, she also received a merit from the Royal Academy of Dance, London, for Level 3-certificate in Vocational Graded examination in Dance: Intermediate (Ballet) in April 2015 and Grade-3 distinction in 2010. It was such a big feat for Morta, who received her cochlear implant in August 2004 when she was barely 5 years old. The teenager said she is blessed to learn from musical artists through the mentorship training, as this could help her launch a composer-artist career. She would love to become an artist who can inspire the world through her performances and work. “My ultimate goal would be to be able to inspire people by encouraging them to aim high and reach their dreams, whether they have a hearing loss or not. And I really hope that I can write more songs and collaborate with amazing singers such as Adele, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and other world-class artists,” she declared.

July 2017 Reading Chronicle

A deaf mother who was woken up by firefighters rushing her and her daughter out of a smoke-filled home thanked the emergency services for rescuing them. Chloe Stoakes arose to plumes of thick black smoke after an abandoned hob had been left on overnight. Firefighters and neighbours had banged on the door but Ms Stoakes, 46, cannot hear during the night because she removes her cochlear implant. Crews had no choice but to break into the house in Mayfield Drive, Caversham, and rescue the unaware duo.

Ms Stoakes said: "I was woken up by firemen and paramedics as my house was full of smoke due to a pan being left on. "When they woke me I thought it was my cat as she usually paws me awake around 6am, so I kept turning away. When I did realise I had no idea if house was still on fire or anything I as couldn't hear until I put my cochlear implant in.” Ms Stoakes' fire alarms were not properly fitted. Luckily, a neighbour had noticed smoke billowing from the semi-detached home and called the emergency services. "The neighbours were banging on the window before they called fire brigade," Ms Stoakes continued. I feel very very lucky as it could have been much worse if it wasn't for them. I would like to raise awareness on deafness and fire safety as people can get caught out anywhere. I once worked in a nursing home and first I knew there was a fire safety exercise was when I saw a fireman in a mirror in the loo- everyone else had been evacuated. There are specialist devices available now but not everyone is aware of these particularly if your not involved in the Deaf community."

A spokesman for Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "As no one was responding when they banged on the door, firefighters had to get inside the house using an extension ladder through a window. In the kitchen they found food had been left cooking on the hob so they removed the pans and switched off the power.  A neighbour dialled 999 to alert firefighters after they smelled burning coming from the house next door. There was a smoke alarm in the property but it had been incorrectly fitted so did not activate. Fortunately the damage was limited to the pan, and mother and daughter were uninjured."

Professor GibsonPlease join us in congratulating Prof on his Australia Day honours award. Prof, who already had been appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia, yesterday was honoured with Officer of the Order of Australia. Congratulations Prof!! Even bigger celebrations now for international Cochlear implant day on Feb 25th.

Emeritus Professor William Peter Gibson of Birchgrove:
 For distinguished service to medicine, particularly in the area of otolaryngology, as a clinician, to the advancement of cochlear implant programs, and to professional medical organisations.


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Dec 2017 Express & Star News

Pat McFaddenPat McFadden, Labour MP for Wolverhampton South East, spoke during a debate in Westminster

He revealed the experiences of his constituent Lamina Lloyd, 43, of Springvale who had to give up work due to hearing loss and cannot secure a cochlear implant operation that could transform her life. Pat said in the debate: "There are many aspects to deafness, but I want to focus on one particular issue and that is the criteria for receiving cochlear implants under the NHS. My argument is simple – these criteria should be reviewed; it should be made easier to get an implant; to do so would transform the lives of those who need this technology; it would improve the lives of their families and loved ones and it would be a prudent investment because it would obviate the need for more expenditure further down the line."

Speaking of the story of Ms Lloyd, Pat said: "Until last year Lamina had a flourishing career as the manager of a local Citizens Advice Bureau. However, Lamina has Meniere’s disease which has resulted in progressive hearing loss, so much so that last year she had to give up work. She has two children who themselves have additional needs. She can no longer hear her children, who have to act as her ears. She describes her family life as having gone from being an outdoor family to one that rarely leaves the house. Lamina is an intelligent, capable outgoing person but for her, hearing loss has meant the end of her career, a deterioration in the quality of her family life and increasing isolation. To try to alleviate her condition Lamina wears the most powerful hearing aids available turned up to maximum volume, but they make little difference and give her frequent ear infections and headaches caused by feedback and squealing."

Pat hopes that by raising awareness of Ms Lloyd's story, it will highlight the importance of early assessment and the positive impact of implants. Pat added: "Even if Lamina is approved for an implant, the question has to be asked why has it taken so long and why do we put people and their families through such pain before giving them the help that could make a life changing difference?

If my constituent had been helped earlier, she might still be in a job, would not need to rely on the state for financial support and her family would not have had to share the difficulties they have all been through together. It is time for a step change in the urgency with which this issue is treated. The guidelines must be revised and it must happen quickly. NICE needs to move faster on this so that the suffering of my constituent Lamina Lloyd and the many people around the country who are in a similar position is alleviated."