45 millions…

March 7, 2016 by Jacques Erpelding
TransistorsNo, this is not the jackpot of the next Loto-Québec draw! 45 million is the number of transistors in the electronic microchip of some hearing aid models. Yes, it is possible to fit that many transistors in such a tiny casing!

Why so many?

For the wearer to benefit from the best speech understanding possible in all circumstances, the hearing aid must analyze the sound environment in real time, and this requires a very powerful microchip.

The logic is simple: the more transistors in a circuit, the quicker it is at calculating sound environment parameters and adjusting hearing aid settings in real time to ensure optimum signal reception. The number of transistors also impacts the power available to transmit the audio signal from the right to the left side, or to both ears, as needed.

What they need to do

The moment you get into your car, the acoustic environment changes. The space is a lot more limited, and there is no wind anymore. The sound environment changes again as soon as you start the engine and begin driving—and again as you speed up and turn on the radio or wipers, or it starts raining. The hearing aid must adapt to the prevailing sound environment, under all circumstances.

That being said and to deliver peak performance, the hearing aid must not only be able to “recognize” the sound environment, it must also be able to “decide” on the actions to take without any manual intervention from the wearer.

Let’s go back to the car example: when the hearing aid analyzes the sound environment and detects a change, it must switch the automatic program mode to “Car.” It must also switch the microphone mode, make sure that the noise reducers are activated, and assess frequency response and channel compression. All of these tasks must be performed quickly and continuously, which requires tremendous power!

552 million

Not only is this type of hearing aid able to perform all of these operations, but it still has enough power remaining to directly retransmit a call received on a cellphone or a song from an MP3 player. The 45 million transistors perform all of these tasks at an astounding rate of 552 million operations per second!

Next time you put on your hearing aids, think about the researchers and developers that work tirelessly to improve the performance of these tiny technological marvels. Picture the 45 million transistors performing 552 million operations per second, and hear how beautiful life is!

To determine which hearing aids are best for you, consult an audioprosthetist.


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