Oticon has been around since 1904 and is the flagship brand of Demant A/S, they second largest hearing aid manufacturer in the world. Oticon has a long history of innovation and top notch technology and made the first hearing aid that was “made-for-iPhone ” with the 2016 Opn hearing aid. The company is currently best known for their BrainHearing technology that focuses on the brain’s role in the hearing process. Oticon continues to develop breakthrough hearing aid technologies, and the Opn Play is another in that line.
The Oticon Opn Play is a hearing aid designed and made specifically for kids. It is an internet-enabled hearing aid that connects with smartphones, tablets, and other electronics without the need for a device or app. The Opn Play was designed to work specifically for a kid’s lifestyle and the way that they hear. It also comes in a wide variety of colors that are all kid-friendly and multiple styles from a very discreet mini RITE style to the more traditional Behind-The-Ear (BTE) styles. The following is a description and review of the Oticon Opn Play.
Things to Consider Before Buying
The Oticon Opn Play was created for children. It looks like a child’s hearing aid, it works well for children, and you get access to accessories and microphones that help in a classroom setting. On top of that, the BrainHearing and Deep Neural Network brings the child’s brain into the hearing aid process. All of these things together make this one of the best hearing aids out there made specifically for children.
- Designed with a child’s lifestyle and hearing needs in mind.
- An onboard Deep Neural Network (DDN) that learn through experience just like a child does.
- OpenSound Navigator gives children access to the entire soundscape around them.
- OpenSound Optimizer gives you optimal gain without the threat of feedback for improved audibility and subsequent language development.
- OpenSound Booster can activate a very high setting when needed.
- A wide range of kid-friendly colors.
- Rechargeable hearing aids are easier to work with, and if you charge them every night you never have to worry about losing power during the day.
- Uses the Velox S platform that all of the other high end Oticon devices use.
- Easy connectivity to most Bluetooth enabled devices.
- Compatibility with existing classroom solutions like the ConnectClip, EduMic, and many laptops and tablets.
- The IP68 rating means that it is water and dust resistant.
- Access to the Oticon On app.
- It is an expensive device, especially if the child is older and will need to move up to a different device sooner than later.
- No In-The-Ear (ITE) styles for kids who want an invisible option.
- A child’s hearing will, most likely, change more often and more quickly than an adult which can make it hard for the hearing aid to keep up.
Features & Benefits
Design/Type of Hearing Aid
The Opn Play hearing aid comes in either Receiver-In-The-Ear (RITE) or BTE styles. There are three modes that feature the RITE style while the “power plus” model is a BTE hearing aid with the most power offered in the Opn Play line. This style of hearing aid is known for using the shape and size of your ear to make your listening experience more customized and with the device sitting outside of your ear, there is more room for added features and technology. These RITE hearing aids also have additional microphones that allow for a 360-degree listening experience that is described below. You can find the Opn Play hearing aid for children with mild to severe hearing loss.
Fit and Wearability
The Opn Play line of hearing aids were designed and built for children, and that can be seen in the comfort, size, and shape of the device. While they are not really customized hearing aids, they are built for children with comfort being a high priority. Part of the fit and wearability is the “tamper-resistant” battery door. This helps keep children’s fingers off the inside of the device so it can work at an optimal level.
There are rechargeable and disposable options available, but when it comes to hearing aids for children, the rechargeable option is highly recommended. With the rechargeable hearing aid, all you have to do is make sure it sits in the charger overnight while the child is sleeping, and they are guaranteed to have a charge for the entire next day even with streaming. There is also an LED light that shines on the outside of the hearing aid that allows teachers or parents to see that the hearing aid’s battery is working properly.
- Sound quality
The 360-degree sound is different from any other directionality feature on the market. Rather than having a microphone pointing directly in front of you and focusing on that sound, the Opn Play brings in sound from your entire soundscape. You get to choose which sounds you listen to rather than just getting a sampling of the sounds in your soundscape. This feature helps make your listening experience as natural as possible and brings your brain into the process.
The Oticon Opn Play is a very flexible device that uses your natural hearing tendencies to give you one of the most personalized listening experience possible. Because of how similar it is to natural hearing, it is easier to adapt to adapt to this hearing aid than others. It is also a small and lightweight device that, while it sits on your ear, you can use very quickly.
- Adaptive noise reduction
The OpenSound Navigator processes noise so quickly it even cleans up noise in between words so that what you hear is what you want to hear.
- Automatic sound adjustment based on environment
Each model of the Opn Play hearing aid features wind noise management, OpenSound Optimizer, and Soft Speech Booster to help you adapt to your noise environment. The most feature-rich aspect of adaptive noise reduction is found with the OpenSound Navigator as it naturally adapts your hearing aid settings and features to the environment you are in.
With a wide array of accessories, apps, and Bluetooth capability, you can stream audio from almost any other Bluetooth-enabled electronic device. The Opn Play is made-for-iPhone so that you can stream directly from your iPhone to your hearing aids no matter what you are doing. The sound quality is great and the Bluetooth technology allows for continuous streaming for as long as you want to do it. You can also stream from tablets, televisions, and anything that is compatible with telecoil.
The EduMic is an easy-to-use classroom hearing solution that gives students clear and reliable access to a teacher’s voice from a wireless remote mic and helps a child with hearing loss manage classroom noise, reverb, and distance. The EduMic makes it easier for a child to hear their teacher and ignore background noise when they are trying to focus in the classroom.
- TV Adapter
Stream the audio from your television directly to your earpieces and you can even adjust your personal television volume without messing with anyone else.
Makes any smartphone compatible with your hearing aids including the ability to make hands-free calls with almost any smartphone. You can also wirelessly stream anyone’s voice directly to your hearing aids.
Unique Perks and Features
- Bluetooth connectivity
The connectivity of the Opn Play is one of the most desirable features. It is a made-for-iPhone device which means that it will connect directly to most Apple phones giving you quality streaming, hands-free calling, and direct access to your device. At the same time, the Opn Play hearing aids will connect to most Android devices and the majority of electronics that are Bluetooth enabled. This feature comes in handy in a school setting where children can connect directly to a laptop or other means of communication.
BrainHearing is the basis for most Oticon hearing aids right now and was developed to help with speech clarity, reduced listening effort, and improved short-term recall. This new technology hinges on the idea that, “your ears collect sound, but it is your brain that understands it.” Oticon believes that when your brain does not receive enough sound information, you will not understand what people are saying or what is going on around you. BrainHearing technology takes into account the brain’s role in hearing while remaining focused on what the ear does as well.
One of the key pieces of technology that came from BrainHearing is called a deep neural network (DNN). A DNN is a type of machine learning that mimics the way the brain works, and Oticon was able to apply this to their hearing aids. Oticon hearing aid DNNs are trained with millions and millions of real-life sound scenes such as restaurants, sporting events, classroom lectures, train stations, etc. The DNN then attempted to identify and balance each sound in each sound scene, and through a system of trial and error, DNNs learned how to process sound correctly and to prioritize the most important sounds to you in a given environment.
- Oticon ON App
The Oticon On app is available with most of the Oticon hearing aids, including the Xceed family of devices, and can be paired with iPhones and Android devices. It is important to consistently update your app because Oticon makes continual improvements to give you the best listening experience possible. The following is a description of how you can control your Oticon hearing aids with the app.
- Remote Control
The remote control is where you control your device. You can turn the volume up or down, or switch back and forth from different programs.
- Hearing Aids
This button on the app allows you to check the battery level of your hearing aids. By monitoring battery life through this app, you will avoid finding yourself in the situation where your hearing aid batteries die unexpectedly.
There is also a “find your hearing aids” option, similar to what many smartphones have. This can help you locate your hearing aids if you should lose them.
Oticon calls this aspect of your app “a fitness tracker for your ears.” It tracks your hearing, helps you to set goals, and gives advice on how to improve your hearing. In this area of the app, you can actually set goals for how long you want to use your hearing aids and then check back over weeks and months to see how close to your goals you have come.
- Internet of Things.
The Oticon On app actually opens up the “If This Then That” (IFTTT) internet based service in Xceed hearing aids. This is a service that enables you to connect or integrate your hearing aids with products all around you such as lighting systems, appliances, your email, phones, etc. Here are some examples of things that IFTTT can do:
- Turn your bedroom lights on every morning when you take your hearing aids out of their charger.
- Alert you every time your alarm system goes off or your doorbell rings.
- Send an email to your caregiver alerting them that your hearing aid’s battery is low.
- Have a signal sent to you if your refrigerator door is open or your timer is going off.
The internet of things is a relatively new and expanding technology, especially as it relates to hearing aids. The idea is that “things” can communicate with each other electronically, and Oticon remains at the forefront of this technology because of its potential importance to people who suffer from hearing loss.
- Hearing Guide
This section of the app holds full guides that will help you make sure you are using all of the features that your hearing aid offers. Having these guides at your fingertip will allow you to go through and discover features and aspects of your Oticon hearing aids that you may be unaware of. The guides will teach you how to put these features to use.
The “settings” button allows you to configure the app to your personal preferences so that it can be more useful to you in the long run. This button also gives you access to the “instructions for use” for the On app.
- Classroom Solutions
Because of how important education is to children, the Opn Play features many classroom solutions specific to school-age children. The EduMic accessory can give you clear and direct access to your teacher’s voice. The ConnectClip is a personal remote microphone that helps you communicate on a one-on-one basis and essentially turns your child’s hearing aid into high end headphones. The On App gives your child access to features that are not otherwise available. The Amigo FM is a microphone system that helps students overcome the effects of distance and noise that can be present in a classroom environment.
- OpenSound Navigator
The OpenSound Navigator features a soundscape analysis that processes the noises in your environment up to 100x/second. It then balances the sound so that you can hear the background noise without it being distracting but you can focus on the primary speech and noise in your environment without distraction. It also reduces the noise so quickly that it can actually reduce the noise heard between spoken words so that speech clarity is as optimal as what you get with natural hearing.
- OpenSound Optimizer
Oticon’s “OpenSound Optimizer” prevents feedback and other annoying sounds from impacting your hearing experience. Most hearing aids have technology that automatically turns down the volume when these noises are present, but Oticon’s solution prevents these noises from even being picked up in the first place. It also helps with speech recognition because speech is so often found at higher frequencies which are more susceptible to feedback.
- Allergen Free
Children’s skin can be sensitive and you may not even know what causes allergic reaction to children until they occur. The Opn Play hearing aids exclude phthalates and more than 200 other potentially harmful materials.
You can expect the Oticon Opn Play to cost $4,000 or more depending on features, accessories, and the amount of service needed before and after the sale.
- What is the life expectancy of the Oticon Opn Play?
As a general rule, a good digital hearing aid will probably last between 3 and 7 years. Oticon hearing aids are made from quality materials and are a very durable hearing aid option, so if they are cared for you should expect to have them for a long time. The Oticon Opn Play, however, are hearing aids built for children which means their life expectancy would be noticeably shorter. Not only do children run a much higher risk of losing or damaging their hearing aids, in general a child’s hearing will change more quickly than an adult’s as well.
- What is the cost of the Opn Play Hearing aid?
The Opn Play was created for children and many of the features that go along with it are great for children as their hearing levels and ability are not yet fully developed. The Opn Play hearing aids are expensive, but that price reflects the features and technology that go into the device. You can expect to pay upwards of $5,000 depending on the features, style, accessories, and level of service you require.
- Are the Oticon Opn Play hearing aids any good?
They are some of the best, most feature-rich pediatric hearing aids on the market. Because of the difference in a child’s hearing ability and the fact that their brains and ears are not yet fully developed, it is important that they have a device built specifically for kids. The Opn Play is not only that, but a lot of R&D has been poured into these devices by the company and they are a great option for children with mild to severe hearing loss.
Oticon has been committed to pediatric hearing health and has come up with multiple innovative hearing solutions for children. The focus of the Opn Play is educational accessories and features that help the unique needs of children with hearing loss. The fact that Oticon gets your brain involved in the listening process is a big deal for kids as they are still learning how to hear. The combination of BrainHearing technology and a 360-degree soundscape make these hearing aids as close to “natural” hearing as you can get with processed sound, and that is especially important for a child. Oticon did not just develop a hearing aid for adults and make it smaller so that it fits a child, the company took into account the unique features that a child with hearing loss requires and use their existing technology to make those features available.