Touch-screen interfaces have already usurped traditional buttons on a range of mobile devices that boast a larger screen size and/or smaller form factor by doing away with a wide range of buttons or dedicated keypad. Now buttons of all sorts on all sorts of devices are under assault. Just last week Apple declared war on mouse buttons, and now hearing technology company, Starkey Laboratories, has taken aim at fiddly hearing aid buttons with its "Sweep Technology" touch-based interface for hearing aids.
We’ve looked at new incarnations of the hearing aid recently, but traditional behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are still extremely popular. BTE designs generally sport an array of minuscule buttons and dials that can be hard to manipulate – particularly for the largest group of users, the elderly. And as such devices continue to shrink in size through technological advances, the need for a more user friendly way to control these devices increases.
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Starkey’s new "Sweep Technology" replaces all the traditional hearing aid buttons and dials with a touch surface that allows users to adjust volume and change settings with a sweep or touch of a finger. The touch interface means there is no mechanical movement required for activation, no push buttons that oxidize and fail with time, and no openings around the volume control wheel that allow moisture and dirt to enter the hearing aid. The sweep surface is a single seamless control, giving patients full access to volume, memory and standby controls.
The controls are simple and intuitive enough for even the least tech savvy. Sweeping the finger up increases the volume of the device, while sweeping down will decrease the volume. Memory adjustments can be made with a touch of the surface. And aside from being easy to use, removing the traditional dials and buttons gives the touch-enabled devices the look of a Bluetooth headset rather than a hearing aid.
The Sweep Technology can be found in Starkey Laboratories BTE S Series hearing aids, which come in a variety of styles and colors.View gallery - 2 images