Virto Black, launched on January 6 at the Las Vegas CES show, is Phonak’s first custom-made hearing aid boasting the benefits of Marvel technology, including universal Bluetooth streaming, hands-free phone calls, and a personalised hearing experience via the myPhonak app.
When paired with a Roger accessory, Virto Black wearers can also experience up to 10x better-than-normal hearing in noisy situations and over distance by streaming the Roger signal directly into both ears, claims Phonak.
Available to the US public through licensed hearing care professionals from February 19, Virto Black mimics the look of the kind of hearable device currently being bought by young consumers to be seen to be worn, and also used by many tech-minded persons who value the benefits and convenience of such hearables. Phonak says Virto Black is "designed to blur the lines between a hearing aid and a hearable and help people seek treatment sooner thanks to the stylish design and innovative hearing aid technology designed to meet the needs of even severe hearing losses."
The company ran a survey of more than 600 non-hearing aid wearers worldwide with hearing loss. This revealed a majority would choose Virto Black in comparison to traditional in-the-ear hearing aids, a result most prominent in the 18-56 age range, suggesting, says Phonak, that "younger wearers may be more comfortable wearing a bold, stylish product like Virto Black in their ears".
Unlike traditional earbuds, the firm points out, "Virto Black’s custom fit means the devices can be comfortably worn all day and won’t fall out during exercise".
Among the attractions Phonak hopes will bring Virto Black market success is the firm's claim that this is "the world’s first custom-made hearing aid that directly streams from both iOS®, Android™, or virtually any other Bluetooth®-enabled audio device. It boasts up to 16 hearing performance features that work together to help wearers connect with everyone in their life. Meanwhile its microprocessor chip runs five wireless protocols at the same time including Bluetooth Classic, Bluetooth LE, Binaural VoiceStream Technology™, Airstream Technology™ and Roger, providing the wireless connectivity that today’s wearers expect."
"With Virto Black," says Phonak, "hearing aid wearers can answer, end, or reject a phone call with a simple push of a button while keeping their phone in their pocket, purse, or on a nearby table. On-board microphones allow wearers to use their devices as wireless headsets, resulting in truly hands-free conversations."
Virto Black hearing aids are custom-made using state-of-the-art 3D printing technology and then expertly assembled by hand. The device uses Biometric Calibration, which analyzes 1,600 unique data points from a person’s ear impressions to optimize directional microphone placement and ensure an exact fit.