Tag Archives: Advanced Bionics

Activation Day! (Round 2)

Today was Fiona’s activation day for her second (left) ear. While the day had only a fraction of the fanfare of her original activation day, it’s still an important milestone as she now begins her life with full stereoscopic sound.

Eliza had a great post on this a few weeks ago with Two Ears are Better then One, but the net of all this is the benefits are far greater then just redundancy of hearing. Two functional ears are critical for localization of sound, something we take for granted in our day to day life. In addition, the overall quality of the sound is greatly improved by having both ears working in concert.

The procedure ran very similar to the original activation day, with the first hour spent mapping the new processor frequencies, and then the second hour testing her reception of sound. The procedure was complicated somewhat further by the fact that we had to turn on and off her existing processor to make sure she was picking up sound properly from the new ear.

As you can see here, the new setup has more wires to tangle up, which is something we’ll need to get acclimated to.

Two processors

Two processors

Umm, toy pie!

Umm, toy pie!


We’ve also switched to the Advanced Bionics Naida processor on both ears, which you can see clipped to the back of her shirt in the above picture. These processors are actually designed to be worn over the ear (hence the ear-like shape), but Fiona is too young to wear them in that configuration right now. Instead, clipping to the shirt is far more manageable until she’s old enough to manage the processors on the ear herself.

We also have lots of new Advanced Bionics gear to go with these processors, as you can see decked out below.

Fiona1 (3)

We’re facing a new challenge with the amount of exposed wiring, and Fiona loves to tug the ear pieces off her head. Eliza is on the case, though, already designing elaborate headbands and shirt tucking contraptions. I think she may have a career ahead of her in CI clothing!

Anyway, we did shoot some video today. At the start we didn’t get much of a response, but towards the end we were starting to see some glimmers. This is not unlike her first ear, though, where we saw the biggest improvements in the weeks following her activation.

This video starts near the end of the activation process when we started seeing some glimmers. What’s really interesting, though, is when her right (original) processor is turned back on around the 3:33 mark – Fiona has a clear reaction and almost instantly starts humming. She’s normally a very vocal girl, but was dead quiet during most of the left ear activation. When the right was turned back on, it was almost like flipping a hearing switch. Pretty telling, and surely a sign to come for her left ear down the road.

And finally, here are some more pics that have nothing to do with the activation, but are just so darn cute because it’s my daughter, enjoy 🙂

Learning to program

Learning to code just like Dad…

The most flexible you'll ever be Fiona, enjoy it now!

The most flexible you’ll ever be Fiona, enjoy it now!




Baptisms, Seminars, and Gadgets Galore

Long day for miss Fiona today. We started off witnessing the baptism of Andrew Cassidy, the son of our good friends Samantha and Brandon (congrats guys!). Andrew was born just weeks before Fiona, so its fun to watch the two of them grow up together.

Fiona had a ball at church and thoroughly enjoyed chewing on the various handouts in our pew. (We kept her away from the bibles, i’m sure there’s a place in hell for those babies ;->).

Hey I know that guy!

Hey I know that guy!

Afterwards we stopped by Chez Cassidy to grab a great lunch and a few most excellent beers. Fiona got into the spirit of things, practicing with an empty cup….

I'm a big girl now!

I’m a big girl now!

Or was it???

From there we drove on to a seminar in Norcross hosted by Advanced Bionics, one of the “big 3” cochlear implant manufactures I’ve talked about in earlier posts. Eliza and I have all but decided to go forward with Advanced Bionics as the implant manufacturer for Fiona’s surgery on March 7th, so today was a fact finding mission to learn more about their latest processor, the Naida CI Q70 and what options we should select.

AB Seminar

AB Seminar…with Free Chocolate Bars!

And oh my the options! Different colors, different batteries, remote controls, cables and even Bluetooth! It felt like car shopping – should we get the rust coating?

Naida Processor

Naida Processors and Accessories

While we’ve seen the new model before, this was our first “hands on” experience. It was great to play around with the implants – feeling the weight, swapping out the batteries, and plugging in the various cables. It helped a lot in our decision making process.

The biggest value of these seminars, though, is talking with other parents who’ve been through before. It’s always uplifting and educational to hear their stories first hand.

Some tidbits I picked up:

  • Fiona is very lucky to get her surgery at 10 months old. In the past, insurance companies would not authorize until 2 years or even older. Without fail, every parent we’ve talked to has confirmed the earlier the better for her speech development. Kids who have received implants at a young age “mainstream” into classes with hearing children much quicker.
  • Several kids at the seminar had graduated from the Atlanta Auditory Verbal Center, the same center we use for Fiona. Nothing but positive mojo about the center and the results on the children. One adorable little girl said she graduated so young she barely remembered even going to therapy. (Her speech was excellent by the way). Remarkable.
  • Interesting tip on CI colors: one parent recommended we NOT get skin or hair color, but rather something bright and noticeable – at least for infants. Why? Because you will constantly lose the implant around the house, outside, etc. and its much harder to locate the skin colored implants. Interesting perspective – we’re still making up our mind on that one.
  • One parent highly recommended getting the product replacement plan with the implant. I almost never get those (can you say “profit center” ?), but he brought up a good point – you don’t want your child to live “in bubble wrap”. If you’re constantly stressing about losing or breaking the implant, you’re going to stunt your child’s exploration of the world. You want them to explore, roll in the dirt and be a kid. I couldn’t agree more.

Anyway, long day for miss Fiona today, but she did great. She just went down to bed, an hour late courtesy of daylight savings. Sleep well!

Now time to watch some Zombies on Walking Dead tonight. Brainnnnssss!

Don't wake the baby!

Don’t wake the baby!

Advanced Bionics Firefighting Fun

Chicks Dig Firetrucks

Chicks Dig Firetrucks

Early this morning we packed into the car for a 30 minute drive south to Clayton Country Fire Station 4, just south of Hartsfield Jackson airport. What a beautiful day for a drive: 65 degrees, zero humidity and not a cloud in the sky. Good weather always feels better on a Saturday.

Advanced Bionics was hosting an event to meet Kelli Duncan, a Cochlear Implant recipient who works at the fire station and graduated at the top of her class. It was also a great opportunity to meet other parents with CI children and to see the new Naida Cochlear Implant.

Kelli was truly inspiring, a very capable and respected member of the force. Her parents and sister were also in attendance, and you could see nothing but pride in their eyes. Truly inspiring and you couldn’t help but get caught up in the emotion.

Kelli Duncan

Kelli Duncan

And of course fire stations are like candy crack to kids. They couldn’t enough of it. Fire trucks, coloring books, fire hats, hot dogs, sunny weather, more fire trucks. Kid heaven.

Fiona was by far the youngest there, so much of this was lost on her. Still, she was a crowd favorite and we did our part to embarrass her properly.


Oh a fire station…yawn…

Group Photo

Who Can Resist a Picture with a Fireman?

Of course the little boy in me couldn’t resist some of the fun. In this short video one of the fire fighters demonstrated how fast they get dressed when the alarm sounds. (look for Kelli as the firefighter on the right side in the foreground).

Eliza and I really enjoyed talking with the other parents and children with Cochlear Implants. Many of the children already had an implant and were doing fantastic in such a noisy environment. This was by far the largest concentration of implant wearers we had ever seen in one place.

The tone around the room was optimism and excitement. CI’s are really a game changing invention, and you could hear nothing but pride and excitement about the possibilities this device has made for everyone in the room. We made several new friends, and shared contact info with many that we hope to keep in touch with.

Of course, being part owner of a small technology startup, the business man in me also had to marvel at the flawless marketing prowess of Advanced Bionics in hosting this event. Provide real value to the parents, make it a fun time for the children, give out cool freebies with the AB logo, and showcase off your new technology to anyone interested. Well played Advanced Bionics!

Of course I ate it all up, and was glad to have a chance to check out the new processor. There was definite excitement in the room for the new technology: the new processor is smaller then anything on the market, and more powerful (more clarity, more features, better quality, etc.). AB has invested a lot of R&D integrating the new CI to the digital world: BlueTooth, FM receivers, seamless integration with cell phones, you name it. This is a completely different level of excitement then waiting for the next iPhone or xBox version, these advances are real game changers to the hearing loss community. Great stuff.

All in all it was a fun event. We learned something, met new friends, and enjoyed a few laughs. Not a bad way to spend a beautiful Saturday morning.

Now if only Fiona would wake up…

Yawn...What Fire Station?

Yawn…What Fire Station?

Advanced Bionics Releases New Cochlear Implant

Advanced Bionics New Implant

Advanced Bionics New Implant

For those who don’t know, last January I threw caution to the wind and joined an early stage technology startup called Zoompf with my good friend Billy Hoffman (an avid follower of this blog). When you start a technology company, you quickly learn the value of following industry newsletters, setting up a hundred Google Alerts, diving head first into all forms of social media, and just altogether getting “plugged in” to the industry. I’ve learned A LOT about this in the last 8 months.

When Fiona was diagnosed with profound hearing loss, i quickly applied these new skills to the Cochlear Implant industry as well. In my earlier post about  The Big Business of Cochlear Implants, I called out 3 leaders in the space: Cochler, Med-El, and Advanced Bionics.

Today, my various alerts fired off en masse about a new product release by Advanced Bionics: their new Naida CI Q70 Cochlear Implant. (Yeesh what a name, “Hey we’re all technical and futuristic”…). Eliza and I have actually been following development of this implant closely as we’ve heard of people holding out on their CI surgery to get this new implant since it was a big leap forward. This implant may be a big contender in our choice for Fiona when she’s eligible next year.

I’m still learning more about the details, but here are the specs from their marketing department:

  • 55% improvement in speech understanding in noise1 when AB ClearVoice* and Phonak UltraZoom features are used together
  • 100% wireless connectivity streaming from consumer electronics by leading brands, including Apple, Samsung, and Nokia
  • All-new Binaural VoiceStream Technology designed for improved hearing in noise
  • Bimodal streaming media can be streamed to a compatible Phonak hearing aid and a Naída CI sound processor at the same time!
  • 40% smaller than the previous behind-the-ear sound processor incredibly lightweight for barely noticeable on and off-ear comfort
  • First-ever bilateral feature for easy use and peace of mind each processor can be programmed for both ears so the best ear can still hear if a second processor is misplaced
  • Compatibility with AB performance innovations, including ClearVoice, AutoSound, HiRes Fidelity 120*, and HiRes Optima Sound Processing
  • All-new, discreet T-Mic 2 microphone

There’s a lot of marketing speak in here, but my interpretation is basically this: “Our sound quality is a lot better, and it’s a lot smaller.”

How real is this, I don’t know. We’re looking forward to learning more from independent sources. Advanced Bionics is also coming to Atlanta on November 3rd to give an information session on the new technology, so Eliza and I will be attending.

We may have to choose an implant for Fiona as early as next February, so we’re watching this one closely. Stay tuned…

The Big Business of Cochlear Implants

There are three major players in the Cochlear Implant business. The first, based in Australia, has the eminently functional, yet very uninspiring name “Cochlear“. The second, based in Austria, has an even bigger yawner name with “Med-El“. I have no idea what the “El” stands for.

But the third…the third is a doosie:  Advanced Bionics. Now how freakin’ cool is that? Lasers, top secret labs, bionic superpowers, I’m expecting it all! And hailing from the good ‘ol USA as well! Proud to be an American!

Of course, like most geeky engineers, I am a product of FAR TOO MUCH science fiction. So with a name like Advanced Bionics, I just can’t resist channeling my inner nerd…

Since we know everything on TV is always true, I figure we’re 20-30 years away from technology running amok and ultimately enslaving the human race. In fact, could Advanced Bionics be the real-world equivalent of Cyberdyne Systems from The Terminator movies? Hmmm, I might be on to something…


Doomsday jokes aside, its really cool to see competition and innovation occurring in the CI space. This benefits us all. In fact, Advanced Bionics even has an ipad app that allows you to customize the color combinations of your implant! Implants as fashion statements – something I’m sure I will never truly understand, but will no doubt be critical to our little girl as she grows up.

Check out these screenshots to get a flavor of the customization possible. The days of boring old tan colored hearing aids are so “2000-late”.



I guess it’s true, there really is an “app for that”.