EINDHOVEN, Netherlands, Feb. 23, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- NXP Semiconductors (Nasdaq:NXPI) has today announced that as a result of a partnership with Sonova – the leading manufacturer of innovative hearing care solutions – they have collaboratively developed Venture, a landmark next-generation hearing instrument platform, which offers users exceptional performance. Using the advanced platform, Sonova has already introduced a first family of hearing aids, Phonak Audéo V, which launched in October 2014.
Venture features an ultra-low power audio processing IC, incorporating a microcontroller and dual core DSP subsystem, maximizing computational power at minimal current consumption. The device's microphone inputs have a wide dynamic range, key for the device's sound quality.
Wireless audio and data streaming are managed by a separate IC, built around a Near Field Magnetic Induction radio. This technology provides a tightly-contained Body Area Network, optimized for low power consumption and low latency. Besides its application in hearing instruments, the NFMI technology provides unique features for robust wireless earbuds applications and sensor networks in and around the body. Both ICs run from a battery voltage down to 1V, and will consume around 1mW for a typical hearing aid application.
Sonova is the industry leading manufacturer of innovative hearing care solutions and has utilized advances in semiconductor technology and design to drive innovation in the industry for many years. NXP is recognized as a trusted supplier to the hearing instrument industry, and has established a rich portfolio of ultra-low power sensing, signal processing and connectivity solutions. These were key reasons for Sonova selecting NXP when looking for a partner to co-architect, to develop and supply the vital components of its next generation platform.
Affecting more than 360 million people worldwide, hearing impairment is said by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be the most prevalent sensory deficiency in human population. It is not just an age-related disability, but it increasingly affects young adults and children. It leads to a reduced ability to communicate and, if not treated, can bring about economic and educational disadvantage, and social isolation.
More than 15% of the world's adult population is affected by hearing loss, with only 1 out of 5 having a hearing solution. While hearing aids offer an effective therapy in many cases there is still a low penetration rate of around 20% in developed countries. The main barriers to adoption include lack of awareness, battery lifetime, ease of use, form factor, sound quality and cost – all being addressed by Sonova and NXP through this new platform.
"The Venture platform which we've jointly developed with NXP, offers twice the processing power and wireless bandwidth of existing solutions, but also reduces battery consumption by over 30%. This allows for the running of complex signal processing algorithms, improving the user hearing experience in terms of sound as well as ease-of-use," said Andi Vonlanthen, group vice president R&D of Sonova. "One example is our AutoSense Operating System, enabling hearing aids to adapt to changing listening environments seamlessly and automatically, in a way that users perceive as very natural. Working in close partnership with NXP, we have been able to optimize the platform from the system down to transistor level, allowing us to achieve breakthrough performance."
"We faced a daunting challenge at the start of this program; to double the processing power and wireless bandwidth, while at the same time slashing current consumption and living up to strict form factor constraints. We are proud to, along with the Sonova team, have delivered on our promise," said Bart De Loore, vice president and GM of NXP's personal health product line. "NXP is pushing technology boundaries to enable small, smart, securely and wirelessly connected body-worn sensor nodes. We have demonstrated the benefits of our wireless NFMI technology in a very demanding medical wearable application. The underlying technology is an excellent fit for ultra-low power and robust wireless streaming of audio and sensor signals around the body, a cornerstone of the emerging wearable and hearable segments."
About NXP Semiconductors
NXP Semiconductors N.V. (Nasdaq:NXPI) creates solutions that enable Secure Connections for a Smarter World. Building on its expertise in High Performance Mixed Signal electronics, NXP is driving innovation in the application areas Connected Car, Security, Portable & Wearable and Internet of Things. NXP has operations in more than 25 countries, and posted revenue of $5.65 billion in 2014. Find out more at nxp.com.
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Sonova Holding AG, headquartered in Staefa, Switzerland, is the leading manufacturer of innovative hearing care solutions. The Group operates through its core business brands Phonak, Unitron, Advanced Bionics and Connect Hearing. Sonova offers its customers one of the most comprehensive product portfolios in the industry – from hearing instruments to cochlear implants to wireless communication solutions. Founded in 1947, the Group is currently present in over 90 countries across the globe and has a workforce of around 10,000 dedicated employees. Sonova generated sales of CHF 2.0 billion in the financial year 2013/14 and a net profit of CHF 347 million. By supporting the Hear the World Foundation, Sonova pursues its vision of a world where everyone enjoys the delight of hearing and therefore lives a life without limitations.
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