In 2003 a tiny company in Tulsa, Oklahoma – SeboTek – introduced the first ever RIC (Receiver-in-the-Canal) hearing aid. Since its introduction, the RIC has come from nowhere to capture 60% of the market and is now an industry standard – a fact that is not widely known or publicized. This amazing success results from the RIC’s superiority in every aspect of hearing aid design.
RIC Design Advantages
Custom hearing aids are expensive to manufacturer, mainly due to the amount of handwork involved. Due to its modular design, the RIC lends itself to overseas manufacture – resulting in dramatic reductions in the cost of manufacturing and end-user prices. This pricing advantage means that the days of paying $7 to $9 thousand dollars for a pair of hearing aids are over – another fact the industry hates to admit.
By delivering invisibility, the contact lens revolutionized vision correction. The RIC does the same for hearing aids. Separating the receiver from the piece above the ear and placing it in the ear canal allows designers to make the piece above the ear much smaller. And, since a thin wire is used to connect the two pieces, the need for big bulky tubes is eliminated. The end result is a discreet and virtually invisible hearing aid – absolutely the most sought after feature by consumers.
After invisibility, wearers’ most desired benefit is to understand speech in noisy places. The RIC has directional microphones, the fundamental and essential technology for noise management. Directional microphones help the processor classify sounds as speech or noise, and then deliver amplification that minimizes confusion while preserving as much speech information as possible. Custom hearing aids that fit completely in the ear canal are too small to offer directional microphones. Therefore, the RIC has rendered them obsolete.
RICs come in different sizes (or styles). The most popular have rocker switches or push buttons which allow you to adjust volume levels and change certain settings in the hearing aid’s programming. If you are interested in the least visible RIC possible, some tiny RICs come with a remote control you carry with you. This gives you near invisibility without sacrificing controllability. Regardless of the size RIC you select, you will want the ability to control it. Be aware that many of the smallest RICs lack directional microphones and/or wireless functionality, two fundamental technologies you want to have.
Reliability & Ease of Service
Custom hearing aids need repair far more regularly than the RIC and must go back to the factory when they do – leaving you without half of your hearing for two weeks. When a RIC needs repair, 95% of the time it’s the receiver that fits in the canal that needs replacing. To fix it, all the dealer does is detach the wire/receiver assembly from the body and attach a new one from spare parts inventory – all in a ten minute office visit.
When a RIC isn’t Ideal
Placing a RIC on the ear can be a struggle for those with significant cognition, vision, hand coordination, hand tremors, and/or finger sensitivity issues. In such cases a RIC may not be feasible for the simple reason that the wearer can’t easily manage the use of the design. Most offices have demonstration versions of RICs available. Ask them to let you practice placing it on your ear. Also make sure you can install and remove the battery easily. If dealing with the battery is a challenge, then be aware that Siemens brand RICs have rechargeable batteries that overcome this problem. Provided day-to-day manageability issues are not present, there is no question that the RIC is the style of hearing aid you want to own.
Product Key #1 – Only a RIC