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Crossover Hearing Aids: The Best of BTE and CIC

What do gas-savvy SUV owners want? Improved gas mileage and enough storage space to pack up the scout pack for a day trip. Problem is these carry-alls have always been gas guzzlers, costing a paycheck or two with each fill-up.

So the auto industry developed the SUV hybrid – a car that delivers on performance and functionality. These hybrids deliver the best of both: lower gas consumption (phew!) and the same storage capacity. Today, you can get it all in an SUV.

Well, the hearing aid industry has taken notice of the demand for cross-over functionality with the introduction of FUSE™ from Unitron, a well-known maker of quality hearing aids. You see many of today’s hearing aid users want improved hearing quality – the full spectrum of sound; however, they want it in compact and discrete packages.

The First Mashable Hearing Aid

Unitron Fuse Hearing Aids
The Unitron Fuse Cross-over hearing aids

In the world of computer software development, mashable software combines the best features of two or even three different software programs. For example, by combining a database with commonly-used web tools, you’re greeted by name when you re-visit your favorite web sites.

Your computer and the website “know” you as two kinds of software are mashed together. Mashable is the way to go in computers, SUVs and now, hearing aids with the development of a hearing aid that delivers powerful performance, wearing comfort and complete discretion. Unitron’s Fuse combines the most desired features of two types of hearing aids, mashes them together and creates a whole new weapon in the war on hearing loss.

Hearing aids have long come in a variety of shapes, sizes and configurations so that’s not new. In the past, there have been different types of hearing aids, each with distinctive features, each with pros and cons that knowledgeable hearing aid consumers know all-too-well.

On the spectrum of hearing aid styles and sizes, on one end you have Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids and the other you have Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids.

Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids

The most widely-recognized type of hearing aid is called a behind-the-ear, or BTE, hearing aid. You’ve seen them. You may know someone who wears a pair of these hearing aids. Heck, you may have a couple plugged in right now. BTEs are popular choices for many who experience hearing loss for a couple of reasons.

BTEs have made a comeback within the last few years thanks to new open-fit technology. Open-fit BTEs consist of the hearing aid device resting behind the outer ear lobe (pinna) and transports sound into the ear canal via a thin tube and small plastic dome that rests within the ear canal. Contrary to a traditional BTE which is coupled to a custom earmold, the ear canal remains open, thus the “open fit” design. Sounds are natural sounding and your organic hearing works at its best with a little help from a BTE on an “as needed” basis.

In your grandfather’s days, BTEs were the only choice for some consumers. Those who experienced severe hearing loss needed more ampage to hear routine sounds, and the only way to get that extra juice was in a BTE casing – a hearing aid large enough to deliver the power required to hear well. They were big and clumsy.

Today consumers experience a new generation of BTE technology and design. BTEs are lightweight, compact and they deliver a more natural listening experience because of open-fit capabilities. The downside? Well, BTEs, though tiny, aren’t 100% invisible (something many consumers want). Although the new smaller BTEs are quite discrete and compact, some consumers are still bothered by something resting behind their ear.

So despite the natural sound quality and delivering many features hearing aid consumers want, some consumers still seek other solutions due to cosmetic concerns.

Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids

For hearing aid users looking for complete invisibility – the lowest possible profile – completely-in-the-canal, CICs, have been the only way to go until recently. These devices fit completely inside the ear canal, making them virtually invisible. And for some, a low profile is the number one consideration.

However, these tiny hearing aids aren’t popular with all users who complain of “stuffy ear” feeling. Others find that CICs make their own voices sound muffled or “funny.” But if invisibility is your number one consideration, you go invisible with a CIC.

Another downside to CICs? The physical fit of these hearing aids not only can cause you to feel plugged but the tight deep fit can often cause some physical discomfort. This varies based on a user’s ear canal shape. Out of sight, but definitely not out of mind for many hearing aid wearers.

Finally, one more drawback to CICs: because CICs come in a smaller package than BTEs, this smaller ear gear is not suitable for people with moderate to severe hearing loss. There just isn’t enough room to pack the power in the smaller case, so those who do experience more extensive hearing loss typically choose large customer in-the-ear hearing aids or go with BTEs.

Both BTEs and CICs have attributes that represent the best among hearing aid styles…if only the two could be combined somehow?

What if we took the best features of BTEs – power, open ear fit, wearing comfort, more natural sound – and mashed those features with the best of CIC hearing aids and the totally invisible look of an in-the-canal device?

Well actually, this has been done thanks to Unitron’s newest generation of hearing aids, Fuse – the new crossover hearing aid combining the best of CICs and Open-fit BTEs.

What Makes Unitron’s FUSE Unique?

Unitron Fuse Hearing Aids Articulating Joint
FUSE's articulating joint allows instannt flexible fit

Okay, first, Fuse is 45% smaller than a typical CIC. That translates into improved wearing comfort and total discreteness. It also enables Unitron’s design team to create a CIC that also delivers an open ear fit like a BTE, eliminating that stuffy ear feeling CIC wearers have long complained about.

Fuse employs dual-flow™ vents that allows not only the ear to feel open but also allows natural sound to by-pass the Fuse. Dual-flow™ venting provides wearers with an improved wearing comfort and listening experience. Sound is more natural, less compressed, less tinny and a whole lot more enjoyable.

Fuse addresses issues of wearing comfort and hearing quality in an extremely small package. But Fuse developers didn’t stop there. This leading edge device is totally flexible, with an “articulating” joint that can be configured right in the hearing professional’s office without the need for ear molds and return visits. In other words, you walk in, the hearing professional makes a few twists and turns to Unitron’s Fuse and you walk out with a new set of ears…instant fit.

Fuse eliminates the need for making ear canal molds and modifications in order to fit comfortably inside the wearer’s ear canal. Fuse’s flexible design removes pressure within the ear canal, delivering increased wearing comfort all day long.

Instant fit in a CIC with the benefits of open-fit BTEs. Now that’s a first.

FUSE Price Points & Candidacy

You are probably thinking the Fuse is going to break your checkbook. Well happy to report Fuse is available in three levels of technology, which translates into being available in three different price points.

Fuse is available in Unitron’s premium signal processing platform, Passport™, as well as Unitron’s new Latitude™ lines, Latitude 16 and Latitude 8. So Fuse is available at three different price points with three different distinct options for patient needs in terms of the number of frequency channels, the type of automatic program, and the option for remote control, and other features.

Unfortunately Fuse is not for every person with hearing loss. There is certain criterion that must be met in order to be a candidate for the hybrid device. As John Luna, Unitron’s VP of Sales, explained in a recent interview on AudiologyOnline, the criteria for selecting Fuse for a patient is similar to the criteria used to determine if someone is a candidate for CICs, based upon their ear canal anatomy and hearing loss.

Your hearing professional can quickly assess if you are a candidate by using a specially designed tool to measure your ear canal to determine if the hearing aid will fit appropriately. Any ear canal abnormality that would preclude someone from being fit with CICs would preclude them from using Fuse as well.

Regarding degree of loss, Fuse is suitable for hearing loss that ranges from mild to moderately-severe losses.

Fuse also has an automated feedback management system, so feedback (whistling) is controlled while an open fit is provided thanks to the dual-flow venting.

Unitron Fuse Hearing Aids small size
Unitron Fuse offers small size with open fit beneifts

Hybrid Technology in Hearing Aids: It’s Called Unitron’s FUSE

Just as auto makers are creating hybrid cars and computer programmers are mashing programs together to deliver greater functionality, Fuse is the perfect hearing solution for those consumers who want:

  • a discrete, invisible profile
  • more natural, organic hearing
  • wearing comfort
  • convenience in fitting
  • automation that “learns” your likes and dislikes
  • open ear fit that lets your ears breathe
  • more power to amp up soft sounds, even in people with moderate to severe hearing loss.

Fuse delivers sophisticated features that were once only available in BTEs thanks to innovation in design and development of a hybrid CIC that twists and turns to configure to the ins and outs of your ear canals, making one-stop CIC a reality.

So, is Fuse for you? It is if you’re looking for better sound quality, an open ear fit, 100% invisibility, automated convenience, all-day wearing comfort, and an easy same-day instant adjustable fit.

Ready to cross-over? Ready to enjoy the mashable benefits of both a BTE and CIC? Good.

Then you’re ready for Unitron’s Fuse. See your hearing aid professional today for a hearing evaluation and see if you are a candidate for Fuse.

Small, discrete and smart. Sounds like Unitron’s Fuse has all the features many hearing aid wearers are looking for.

You ready? Let’s go pick up some better hearing. Hybrids have come to hearing aids.

Enjoy Unitron’s Fuse.

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