What are the latest technology developments for assistive listening?
Over the last five to ten years, hearing loop driver technology has improved to include class D digital amplifiers, which provide ultra-efficient power consumption, and advanced DSP circuitry, offering improved automatic gain control and high frequency compensation. This improvement in technology now provides the user with life like speech and first-class music reproduction. Advanced features like this can be found in Contacta’s V7 and V12a loop drivers.
Contacta is constantly looking at ways to develop solutions to include advanced technologies, improving the user’s experience. Specifying newer loop drivers with DSP technology will offer greater frequency response, noise filtering and improved automatic gain control.
New advances in the assistive listening market
The Contacta V series range currently includes two loop drivers, V7 and V12a models. Both systems are made with the installer and user in mind, providing cutting edge technology to achieve life-like speech and superior music reproduction. The V series includes a new user interface with a simple dial to make adjusting loop parameters effortless, while Euroblock connectors enable swift and straight-forward installation.
Projects that require a phased array loop configuration such as theatre halls, or rooms that require minimal spill into adjacent rooms for confidentiality, can install the dual output Contacta V12a. It’s the first dual output driver to be introduced into the range and will provide users with even coverage, while providing designers flexibility when planning the system layout.
Designed to produce supreme sound quality, the V7 and V12a hearing loop drivers include automatic gain control and superior phasing performance. Unlike many conventional drivers, the V series does not require fan cooling, which results in a quieter, lighter and easier to maintain product.
Which assistive living technology (Bluetooth, WiFi, digital radio) is best for the various applications?
There are three types of listening technologies that can be installed into commercial buildings for hearing impaired visitors and staff: FM systems, infrared systems and Audio Frequency Induction Loop Systems (AFILS).
Each system will have advantages and disadvantages, however the most attractive system for AV consultants or specifiers to install is the AFILS. The advantage of installing this system in a commercial building is due to the AFILS ability to transmit directly to the telecoils in hearing aids and cochlear implants, meaning no additional equipment is required for the user.
By providing a direct delivery of audio signal to the user’s hearing aid, it provides a discreet alternative and eliminates the stigma of wearing devices such as headphones, receivers and neck loops, which are typically required by other assistive listening systems.
It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of all hearing aids have telecoils installed, so to install AFILS which will transmit directly to a user’s own hearing aid or cochlear implant, enhances their experience by optimising the audio signal they receive.
It’s not just the user who will benefit from this type of system. Businesses will also benefit, by removing costs associated with product maintenance and hygiene management of third party wearable devices used with other systems.
Current technology around assistive listening provides a great solution for businesses to really improve the user’s experience in situations where background noise reduces the ability to Contacta understand speech or enjoy music.
For new fit outs a site survey to determine the suitability of a hearing loop before installation is recommended. Design layouts are also required for audio frequency induction loops to determine the desired outcomes and to design a matching solution. While most installations will work alongside other equipment, any loop design does need to take into consideration the amount of electromagnetic background noise as well as some musical equipment, such as guitars with magnetic pickups.
Who can I contact about assistive listening technology?
Amber Technology, working with Contacta, can help with loop design drawings free of charge, along with the best products to ensure the solution works to expectation. Correct signage should also be on display to alert hearing aid wearers of the presence
of a hearing loop.
Hearing loops can be installed in existing buildings under or on top of flooring, or in a ceiling cavity. A common installation is to install under carpets using flat copper tape. Contacta offers a range of sizes to suit the requirements. Often the retrofit solution can be a portable loop, which is a lightweight and compact unit incorporating the loop, a microphone, the loop driver and a battery pack. These can be used in one-to-one meeting situations but may also work with small groups. The Contacta Portable Loop has the capacity for an external boundary mic to be plugged in for greater coverage.
For one to one communication applications, the Contacta over-counter loop solutions are a very simple retrofit. The loop is incorporated into the sign and is ideal for retail applications with counter services like supermarket checkouts, shops, hospitality, retail banking and queuing/ client service applications. The loop incorporated into the sign ensures minimal use of valuable space at point of engagement. The user simply needs to stand near the sign to receive the audio signal being delivered.
Contacta also has an under-counter loop system in the range. This is typically used when there is easy access under the counter, again, in most cases, a simple retrofit. The solution is completely out of sight and all that is required is a sign to inform potential users of the ALS facility.
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