The inspiration behind Bernafon Alpha hearing aids

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Bernafon is incredibly proud to share the hearing technology in Alpha hearing aids, which was inspired by the best. To really understand what that means, we need to know who are considered the best listeners in nature, and why. Hearing is incredibly important to our day-to-day lives as one of the senses we use to interpret the world around us, but for many animals, it is so much more than that – good hearing is required for their survival. Whether they need to hear if there is prey nearby to avoid starvation or find their pack when separated, a strong sense of hearing is a necessity for their well-being.

There are so many animals that rely on their hearing and the Bernafon team in Canada was honoured to work with Speaking of Wildlife, who virtually introduced us to some of the animals in their care. Speaking of Wildlife is a hands-on educational organization in Ontario, Canada that provides permanent sanctuary to animals that cannot survive in the wild after being abandoned, orphaned, or illegally kept as pets. They also work to educate the public about Canadian creatures in a meaningful and memorable manner.

Maverick the grey wolf

One of the residents at Speaking of Wildlife’s sanctuary is Maverick, a grey wolf. Grey wolves have two prominent features, both related to their senses. The first is their long snout which allows them to smell with incredible accuracy, and the second is their large, rotating ears which gather sounds big and small from amazing distances. As their second strongest sense, grey wolves will use their hearing to hunt prey such as rabbits, deer, or moose, but they also use it to communicate with their pack through howling when a member gets lost or finds food to share. It’s been said that wolves can hear a sound as far away as 10 kilometres in a forest, or 16 kilometres across open space!

Image credits: Speaking of Wildlife

Ocellus the bobcat

Another resident is Ocellus the bobcat, whose ears are unique for a couple reasons. His large ears have long tufts of fur extending past the tips, which is unique to bobcats and lynx. There’s debate over the purpose of these tufts, but one of the leading theories is that they help funnel sound into their ears, helping them hear even better. Plus, Ocellus can also rotate his ears up to 180 degrees to better find a sound’s source using the 30 muscles in his ears! For reference, humans have a tenth as many muscles in our ears as cats, with only 3 that can be used to wiggle our ears. With one of the broadest hearing ranges among mammals, evolution has helped bobcats hear high frequencies without sacrificing low frequencies.

Image credits: Speaking of Wildlife

Nile the barred owl

Nile the barred owl is a permanent guest at Speaking of Wildlife, and as many know, owls have phenomenal hearing abilities. Though Nile has suffered a few setbacks to his overall health before coming to live at the sanctuary, his hearing is still impeccable. Owls’ ears are hidden beneath their feathers on the edge of their facial disks. What appears to be a rather flat face (no disrespect, Nile!) is actually a disc, similar to a satellite dish, that attracts and captures sound, which bounces around to be directed into their ears. This allows owls to locate the source of a sound with amazing accuracy, which is incredibly important when hunting prey deep under the snow, such as a burrowing mouse. With completely soundless flying abilities, owls can silently track their moving prey even while gliding towards them.

Image credits: Speaking of Wildlife

The inspiration behind Bernafon Alpha hearing aids

Hearing is an incredibly important sense for many reasons, some of which are best exemplified by Maverick, Ocellus, and Nile. Learning about their phenomenal hearing, it’s easy to see how these animals inspired Bernafon when developing the hearing technology in Alpha hearing aids.

Thank you again to the team at Speaking of Wildlife for introducing us to a few of their incredible residents.

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About the author:

Rachel Baitz
Rachel Baitz,
Digital Strategist
, Demant Canada
Rachel Baitz has been in marketing since 2019, with a diverse professional background having been a part of the film and travel industries before joining the hearing healthcare field in 2020. With a passion for digital technology, Rachel brings a unique perspective to her projects and is thrilled to be a part of the Demant Marketing team in Canada. In her free time, Rachel designs and creates digital artwork, bakes mountains of sweet treats for her friends and family, and escapes into the worlds of her favorite books and movies.