Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Front Page - Michele Nu­gent

RIKKI McDon­ald works as a train con­troller but be­ing able to con­trol what she hears with her hear­ing aid has given her free­doms even those lucky enough to have per­fect hear­ing would love to get their ears on.

The 28-year-old from Carlisle was one of Perth’s first res­i­dents to be­gin wear­ing a new hear­ing aid about a month ago and said it was the first time she had heard sounds so clearly, and all with­out twid­dling di­als in or near her ears.

She wears a Made for iPhone hear­ing aid called the Starkey Halo i70 that uses wire­less tech­nol­ogy to in­ter­face with her iPhone and the TruLink hear­ing app, which en­ables her to ad­just the sound level and qual­ity.

But it also means she can stream phone calls and mu­sic di­rect to her ears and can­cel out feed­back noise, some­thing her en­vi­ous col­leagues and friends have said they wished they could also do.

Rikki be­gan wear­ing hear­ing aids five years ago when she was di­ag­nosed with a mod­er­ate hear­ing loss, but has since re­alised her prob­lems may have been present since child­hood and just not picked up.

“I thought peo­ple made it up that clocks made a tick­ing sound. I just could not hear it,” she said.

“I didn’t think I had a prob­lem. My for­mer boss wore hear­ing aids and said I should get tested. When I fi­nally started wear­ing them I be­gan to hear sounds I’d never ever heard be­fore.”

One of the best fea­tures of Rikki’s new wear­able tech­nol­ogy is the abil­ity to use the phone’s GPS func­tion to au­to­mate the aid.

“Pre­vi­ously I could not wear hear­ing aids in the car be­cause of the road noise; now the phone picks up that I am trav­el­ling over 16km/h and re­duces car noise for me,” she said.

“Be­ing a train con­troller you can imag­ine the noise at work is quite loud but the GPS per­son­alises it so when I pull up at work the hear­ing aid knows to change to my work set­tings.

“I do 12-hour shifts and the com­fort of the hear­ing aids has been ex­cel­lent.”

Rikki, who con­trols train move­ments of freight, grain and iron ore on Brook­field Rail lines in the met­ro­pol­i­tan area, also said the backof-ear hear­ing aid was barely no­tice­able, with just a fine wire go­ing into the ear canal, and was seen as “some­thing cool” by oth­ers.

Pic­ture: Martin Ken­nealey

Rikki McDon­ald’s new hear­ing aid has a host of fea­tures, in­clud­ing be­ing iPhone com­pat­i­ble.

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