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Press Release 2017

2017/Oct/12

Joint Development of the World's First*2 Wireless Charging System for Hearing Instruments Using a Rechargeable Battery*1 Interchangeable with the Common Hearing Instrument Battery

Nitto Denko Corporation (headquarters: Osaka-shi, Osaka; President: Hideo Takasaki) (hereinafter referred to as "Nitto") and RION Co. Ltd. (headquarters: Kokubunji-shi, Tokyo; President: Kenichi Shimizu) (hereinafter referred to as "RION") have developed the world's first *2 wireless charging system for hearing instruments. Consisting of a hearing instrument available through RIONET, rechargeable battery*1 that is interchangeable with the zinc-air battery generally used with hearing instruments, and wireless charger, the system provides users with dramatically greater convenience.

Development background

Hearings instruments are indispensable in the daily life of users and have to work when needed. Hearing instruments make use of one of three types of batteries (zinc-air battery, rechargeable battery*1, or dry battery*3, and zinc–air batteries are the main ones used now. Zinc–air batteries not only have long lives but also provide the benefit that they make it possible to continuously use hearing instruments because even if the battery dies when away from home, it can be replaced with a spare. However, these batteries present various issues such as having to be regularly purchased and replaced.

On the other hand, while rechargeable batteries do not need to be frequently replaced, there are various issues with their use, such as not providing as many hours of continual use as zinc–air batteries and making it necessary for users to either carry a charger or have a spare hearing instrument in case the battery of the one being used dies when away from home.

In order to solve those problems, RION extracted the technical elements required for hearing instruments and Nitto developed and designed the rechargeable battery*1 and charging parts, which led to the joint development of the world's first*2 wireless charging system for hearing instruments using a rechargeable battery*1 interchangeable with the common hearing instrument battery. With the goal of commercializing the product, the two companies will undertake additional verification work and plan to launch sales around June 2018.

Main Features of the Charging System

  1. Can use either zinc-air battery or rechargeable battery*1
    Even if the hearing instrument's rechargeable battery dies when away from home, it can be replaced with a zinc-air battery, making it possible to immediately start using the hearing instrument again and eliminating users' concerns about batteries dying.
  2. Wireless charging system that can be used by simply placing the hearing instrument on the charger
    The system makes it possible to charge the hearing instrument by simply placing it on the charger. There is also no need to worry about the orientation of the hearing instrument.
  3. Can be used for hearing instruments (that employ zinc-air battery) available through RIONET.
    We will let people know which hearing instruments the system can be used with when the recharging system goes on sale. Development is moving forward so that the system can be used, of course, with future hearing instruments available through RIONET but also but also some available now through RIONET.
  4. Rechargeable battery provides about 30 hours*4 of continuous use with 2.5 hours*4 of charging
    The batteries are dramatically more convenient for hearing instrument users because they provide long continual use with a short charging time.
  5. Long life—battery can be recharged more than 800 times *4
    If the battery is recharged once a day, it will not need to be replaced for at least two years.
Joint Development of the World's First *2 Wireless Charging System for Hearing Instruments Using a Rechargeable Battery *1 Interchangeable with the Common Hearing Instrument Battery

Newly developed rechargeable battery*1 (left) and zinc–air battery (right)

Joint development

Touting a corporate philosophy of "contributing to people, society and the world," RION Co. Ltd. conducts business centered on four product groups (hearing instruments, medical equipment, sound and vibration measuring equipment, and particle counters) and has continued to develop products so that people can live useful, pleasant lives. By adding the jointly developed wireless charging system for hearing instruments to its product lineup, RION will increase the convenience of hearing instrument users.

With a brand slogan of "Innovation for Customers," Nitto provides new value in various fields, including the environment, new energy, and life sciences, in order to contribute to people's healthy, pleasant life. This time, Nitto developed the world's first*2 rechargeable battery*1 that is interchangeable with zinc-air batteries often used with hearing instruments and wireless charging system by making use of the macromolecular processing technology and high precision wiring technology acquired through its circuit material business and semiconductor business.

Joint Development of the World's First *2 Wireless Charging System for Hearing Instruments Using a Rechargeable Battery *1 Interchangeable with the Common Hearing Instrument Battery

*1. Rechargeable battery module that combines lithium-ion rechargeable battery with a wireless recharging function.
*2. This is the first hearing instrument recharging system that employs not only a rechargeable battery that is interchangeable with the zinc-air battery often used with hearing instruments but also wireless charging. (as of September 30, 2017, based on research by RION and Nitto)
*3. Dry-cell batteries are used for hearing instruments carried in the pocket, which are relatively large compared to hearing instruments worn on the ear, etc.
*4. Hours of continual use and number of times that can be recharged depend on use and the environment used in.

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