- 16. – 18. Oct 2019
Some 8,000 delegates from 99 countries participated in the 64th International Congress of Hearing Aid Acousticians. Organised by the European Union of Hearing Aid Acousticians (EUHA), this major event was held in Nuremberg, Germany, between 16 and 18 October 2019. Attendance figures make the convention the largest specialist event of its kind in the world. The conference schedule included 22 lectures, six tutorials as well as a special programme for Future Friday. A total of 29 lecturers from Germany and abroad presented the latest knowledge on digitisation, artificial intelligence, and new sensor technologies.
The Future Friday was a special highlight. The new format launched for the Friday focused entirely on the future. In the morning, the topics of the day were briefly outlined in fast-track presentations. Innovative energy cell technologies, cognitively controlled hearing systems, the hearing system as a versatile multi tool that makes life so much easier, or modern layer technologies that provide the perfect sound. Algorithms make sure that different voices and sounds can be heard as best as possible. Another lecture focused on new marketing strategies.
Futurologist Kai Arne Gondlach was the keynote speaker. He took his audience on a journey to the future, outlining an exciting scenario of the future with machine and deep learning playing important roles. According to Gondlach, because of rigid data protection regulations, Europe will soon be left behind as far as research into artificial intelligence is concerned. In general, he considers hearing aid acoustics to be full of potential for development. However, businesses should open up opportunities and reassess previous strategies. He also predicted a development resulting in the death of public transport between 2021 and 2030. New concepts relying on autonomous mobility including, for instance, mobile hotels, offices, and restaurants, would replace current ones. From 2020, he expects to see flying drones transporting goods and, later on, people.
EUHA president Beate Gromke opened the Congress quoting Aristotle: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” According to Gromke, this concept applies to the International Congress of Hearing Aid Acousticians more than ever. “By putting together the programme, we provide the platform, the BVHI does the same by organising the trade exhibition, as delegates, you are filling the Congress with interaction by taking part in a direct exchange on a professional and personal level. To be meeting personally is very important, ours is a small industry that thrives on cooperation. You are the ones to boost the Congress – by exchanging ideas, synchronising new contents with practical experience and implementing them,” Gromke said during her opening address.
Dr Stefan Zimmer announced a record-breaking 154 exhibiting companies. He skilfully inspired the audience with a digression into numerology. He attributed the number 21 to the Congress as, in numerology, it signifies opportunities and success. He added a number of success stories.
Professor Dr Karin Schorn presented the Research Award sponsored by the Research Association of German Hearing Aid Acousticians (FDHA) foundation. The award went to Dr Hendrik Husstedt from the German Institute of Hearing Aids (DHI) for his “Evaluation of noise reduction algorithms in hearing aids for multiple signals from equal or different directions”.
EUHA Sponsorship Award
The EUHA Sponsorship Award was presented for the tenth time this year. EUHA Vice President Eva Keil-Becker devoted her laudation to the subject of dynamics, comparing the sponsorship awardees to the white billiard ball. This is the trigger that brings dynamics to the game. In 2019, the Sponsorship Award went to: Christoph Neumann and Lennart Bandick from the Academy of Hearing Aid Acoustics. Their paper entitled “Determining transcranial frequency response while using an air conduction transducer” earned them first prize. Second prize was awarded to Josef Schröder from Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg. His topic: “Evaluating the effect of linear and compressive hearing aid processing on perceived quality of music and musical scene transparency in people with impaired hearing”. Larissa Jäger, a graduate from the Technical University of Applied Sciences in Lübeck, came third. She dealt in detail with the “Determination of reference speech recognition curves for the Freiburg monosyllabic speech test in noise for various loudspeaker configurations”. The anniversary of the award prompted Eva Keil-Becker to thank the members of the jury and to mention all thirty-one recipients of the EUHA Sponsorship Award by name.
The international trade exhibition posted a new record at 154 exhibiting companies from twenty-one countries, the top five including Germany at 52%, P.R. China at 8%, Denmark at 5%, United States at 4%, and the Netherlands at 3%. Fifty-two percent of exhibitors were from Germany, forty-eight from abroad. The trade exhibition in Halls 3A and 4A had a gross exhibition space of 15,500 sqm. Exhibitors at their stands showcased, for instance, the latest in technology, special accessories and measuring equipment. Latest-generation hearing systems are smaller, smarter, and more intelligent that previous models. The products are personalised. Users do not notice them as hearing aid acousticians customise them to meet individual requirements. The hearing systems can be fitted to identify the wearer’s personal hearing taste and to automatically adapt to it. Thanks to modern sensor technology, hearing systems learn the wearer’s preferences and are able to make maximum connections. Their functionality is virtually without limits. Even phone calls are possible without actually touching your mobile. Apart from that, battery technology has also improved.
Actor Miroslav Nemec also came to the event. He uses innovative hearing systems, remarking: “To be honest, most of the time I don’t adjust anything. The hearing aids were fitted and set by the hearing aid acousticians when I first got them. This was very comfortable and didn’t take long. And now, while I wear them every day, they automatically adapt to the respective setting I’m in. Since I’ve had them, I’ve never been in a situation where I had to adjust them manually. I can always rely on the automatic setting. What surprised me the most was that these small gadgets have so much more to offer than just superb sound. Being able to use Bluetooth for phone calls or listening to music (I’m a musician myself) is simply excellent, and what with the batteries, it’s really comfortable.”
More than 90 representatives of the media attended the International Congress of Hearing Aid Acousticians. They were invited to take part in a guided tour of the exhibition, and in the showroom, gained substantial insight into the field of training as a hearing aid acoustician. Marianne Frickel, the President of the Federal Guild of Hearing Aid Acousticians, pointed out the quality of training offered at the Academy of Hearing Aid Acoustics (afh) in Lübeck by saying: “Lübeck is tantamount to quality training.”
She was joined by Philipp Bönig while presenting this future-proof occupation. Bönig is EUHA ambassador of hearing. The one-time soccer pro, who trained as a hearing aid acoustician, was available for an interview during the media day. His message was: “Do a hearing test once a year, even when you’re younger. We live in a fast and increasingly noisy world – by the way, you can hear this first hand inside the stadium, there are 120 decibels and more on your ears, through ratchets, fan trumpets, and screams. I recommend hearing protection – even for people who regularly go to the stadium it’s worthwhile using customised hearing protection fitted by a hearing aid acoustician.”