MED-EL has launched a new generation of middle-ear hearing implant systems at an international hearing implant symposium in Rome, Italy. The latest device will, for the first time in middle ear implants, enable patients to connect directly with a variety of external communication devices via Bluetooth. This allows users unprecedented access to the technology most of us take for granted every day such as listening to music or using a smart phone.

Designed for individuals who cannot use conventional hearing aids for medical reasons or who aren't getting enough benefit from them , the new system includes the SAMBA audio processor which allows users to connect to smart phones, FM receivers and other assistive listening devices wirelessly**. Furthermore the processor adapts to different sound environments by automatically switching between programmes and, by using "Intelligent Sound Adapter" the processor memorises the user's ideal settings and applies these automatically.

Sarah Humphreys, Vibrant Business Unit Manager, "MED-EL strives to be at the forefront of scientific innovation and offer patients with hearing loss a range of solutions that allow them to overcome hearing loss as a barrier to communication. The connectivity of the latest Vibrant Soundbridge is a huge step forward in allowing patients to communicate in the digital age, with modern devices such as mobile phones connecting seamlessly to the implant. The new implant users can undergo MRI scans at 1.5 Tesla without the implant having to be removed. This offers users significantly more comfort and the opportunity to benefit from imaging procedures for medical check-ups in the future."

Middle ear implants utilise mechanical energy to stimulate the structures of the middle or inner ear. An externally worn processor that can be easily hidden under hair, converts sounds into electrical impulses which are then transmitted to a small device implanted completely under the skin behind the ear. These impulses vibrate the middle ear or cochlea - a tiny bone in the ear which creates pulses that the brain interprets as sounds.

The Vibrant Soundbridge middle ear implant is now available in all countries that recognise the CE mark, including the UK, for people aged 5 years and over.