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When Technology Provides Real Benefits?

Well Christmas is done and dusted for another year. I can only hope that whoever reads this, and I know there are one or two of you, had as good as time as I did. Perfect company, perfect food (although as always far too much) and very above average wines thanks to my father scorning my humble cellar. He is desperately trying to shift me away from my love of cheap Rioja to something more refined so turned up laden with gorgeous French reds, crisp New Zealand whites and none to shabby Champagne. I have to confess to enjoying the change, although needless to say once the supply of his finery ran dry, I had little difficulty in returning to my Spanish roots.

I alluded in an earlier blog that if we are honest with ourselves a large part of Christmas is the giving and receiving of presents. I am very happy to report that the female mind continues to baffle me as while all my gifts were well received, if the degree of gratitude can be judged by the volume of the squeals of joy then Mr Potatohead Shower Gel (£4.99 available at all Superdrug stores) comprehensively outshone the expensive necklace (rather more than £4.99 from pricey antique boutique). Note to self in future stick to the cheap stuff!!

On the flip side of the present exchange, I had some really wonderful presents, one of which perfectly captured my attitude to technology. I was given a digital radio. I had dropped Father Christmas a fairly hefty hint that this would be well received but I had not been specific about the “digital” element. I merely wanted a radio for my bedside table to replace the one that had been acquired by my thieving daughter. I am now very glad that Father Christmas had the vision to go digital and I will explain why (in my usual rambling way).

In 1996, when I received the calling to join the hearing aid industry, the company that I worked for was amongst the very highest technology providers. Our products used all sorts of advanced programming algorithms and although they were complex when set up correctly provided fabulous benefits to the wearers. They were not digital – at that time no hearing aids were. However, shortly after my arrival a competitive company launched the first digital hearing aid. It did not have the same complex algorithms that ours used but it had that magic word “digital” in its description. Being slightly behind in the race to use digital processors in our hearing aids we fought for a long time to persuade our customers that digital was not necessarily better. We could not, they were blinded by “digital” and left us in droves. Of course as soon as we launched our own digital products, then we enthusiastically agreed that digital was better and why on earth would anyone buy analogue hearing aids. How shallow and shameless we were!

In reality, we were right. “Digital” is only a processing mechanism and unless it is used to provide an audible benefit then there was no advantage in digital to the consumer. The harsh reality was that the consumer wanted the latest and “digital hearing aid” sounded so much more modern. Is it the same with radios? Well my digital radio has real, audible benefits over my previous model, so the manufacturers have used the digital processing to produce a better product for me the consumer – so “Yes!”, digital is better.

To reassure you, all the hearing aids sold by are digital and all have features that use this processing to provide real benefits to the wearer.

My digital radio does have one limitation though. As soon as it becomes apparent to the hoodlums who infest my house that I have something better than they do, I have no doubt they will come with their thieving hands to relieve me of it. To this end I have a recommendation to the manufacturer of digital radios – they should be provided with a lock and chain to bolt them in place.

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