Helping with Hearing Impairment

The rapid development of a demonstration wireless system provided our business with new ways of looking at things and new opportunities for growth.
- Cochlear

Clarinox developed a wireless system to provide additional information to the carers of hearing aid users. 

In this project Clarinox provided the technology and engineering services to support innovation in the health and medical industry. The Clarinox experience in wireless product development, combined with the Clarinox portfolio of wireless protocols, software tools and hardware reference designs place us in a unique position to ensure the success of wireless health device developments. 

Clarinox worked inline with the client requirements to enable the rapid assessment of an innovative concept. 

Clarinox Role 

Clarinox was engaged to develop a system that would display the information available in a child’s hearing aid in a clear, simple and convenient way to the child’s carer. It was decided that a mobile phone would be the most convenient and commonly available device for the carer to use. 

diagram

Figure 1: Flow diagram showing diagnosis of an error on the hearing device.

The hearing aid used a proprietary ultra-low power wireless protocol, so using this was a mandatory requirement, however given that off-the-shelf mobile devices do not use this proprietary protocol it was not possible to interface directly. The solution was to construct an intermediate electronic device that acted as translator from the proprietary format into a standard format; this is shown as the “Gateway Button” in Figure 1. The standard protocol chosen was Bluetooth, due to its high prevalence on mobile phone devices. 

adjust            Error

Figure 2a (Left): Example user interface for adjusting volume and auto-tuning.
Figure 2b (RIght): Example error message.

Clarinox provided the product development services to construct the gateway prototype, which included the necessary porting and integration services for the embedded hardware and software. The device also made use of the ClarinoxBlue protocol stack. In addition Clarinox implemented embedded and smart phone user interface software. Information to the users was presented on a standard smart phone of the day, examples updated to present off the shelf devices can be seen in Figures 2a and 2b. 

Outcome for Client 

The goal for Cochlear of this project was to test the value of quick and easy access to diagnostic information. The Clarinox modular approach to embedded development ensured that a test unit was achieved within half the time that would have been required by conventional approach. The gains were possible due to the in-built portability and reusability of the Clarinox middleware. The simple API ensured the application layer was quickly developed and the enhanced debugger ensured testing was completed on time and on budget. 

Future Plans 

The future plans include use of the prototype for demonstration and testing of new concepts.