Ear Technology Corporation (“ETC”) is based in Johnson City, Tennessee. Products currently manufactured and distributed by ETC include the Dry & Store® conditioning system for hearing instruments and TransEar®, a bone conduction hearing instrument for individuals with single-sided deafness, and Clik®, a digital open-fit BTE hearing aid with a revolutionary programming interface.
These products are the direct result of company president Dr. Daniel R. Schumaier’s experience as a dispensing audiologist. Dry & Store came about as a remedy for hearing aid performance problems caused by moisture as well as the common complaint of itchy ears. TransEar was invented as a remedy for single-sided deafness. Clik was made possible due to advances in micro-electronic circuitry, enabling the fitting of advanced digital hearing aids without relying on cumbersome cables, computers, and proprietary software.
History of Dry & Store®
In his dispensing practice, Dr. Schumaier saw first-hand how moisture was wreaking havoc with his patients' hearing aids, in some cases even causing them to fail altogether. His patients were frustrated by poor hearing aid performance, and Dr. Schumaier was just as frustrated by the lack of an effective remedy. So he took it upon himself to "do something about it."
Over a period of several years he developed the technology, was awarded several patents, built and tested several prototypes, and finally, in 1997, began manufacturing and distributing the Dry & Store hearing aid conditioning system. Since that time, hundreds of thousands of hearing aid users have benefited from Dry & Store’s unique process, including fewer repairs, better sound quality, and relief from itchy, irritated ears.
Product improvements over the years have included digital circuitry for very precise cycle timing, more robust ignition of the germicidal lamp, and a more powerful Dry-Brik desiccant. In 2002 a portable version of Dry & Store, called “Dry & Store Global”, was introduced, and the original model of Dry & Store was renamed “Dry & Store Professional”. The Global accommodates body-worn processors; it's ideal for travel and second homes, and it also serves international markets.
In 2007, the Dry-Brik II was introduced. In development for over two years, the new desiccant product contains a more aggressive sorbent with much greater moisture-adsorbing capacity, packaged in an attractive, molded, disposable container. Dry-Brik II works with all Dry & Store models.
In 2008 a new member of the Dry & Store family was introduced, called "Zephyr by Dry & Store". While the Zephyr has the same renowned drying and deodorizing benefit, it
does not include the germicidal cycle that its larger siblings share. So even though it's a smaller package, it still packs a punch…clearly not just another box of hot air.
All of our drying appliances are fully automatic and feature the drying technology that has earned Dry & Store its position as the worldwide leader in hearing instrument care. With multiple versions available, you can choose the one that best meets your lifestyle.
History of TransEar®
Approximately 50,000 people each year in the U.S. alone are diagnosed with single-sided deafness (SSD). Prior to TransEar®, the only available remedies for patients with SSD were to utilize a CROS hearing aid, to wear a bone conduction headband, or to undergo surgery to implant a bone conduction device in the skull.
Dr. Schumaier set out to determine if a better way could be found to meet the needs of those patients without occluding the good ear, and without resorting to a bone conduction headband or surgery. He reasoned that if an oscillator could be positioned properly in the ear canal, it would be possible to transfer mechanical energy to the bones of the skull. Surprisingly, no one had previously pursued this application of bone conduction, so Dr. Schumaier applied for and was awarded a patent for TransEar, The product was approved by the FDA for distribution in 2005.
Initially, Ear Technology contracted the manufacturing of TransEar to another hearing aid manufacturer. In June 2006, Ear Technology began producing TransEar "in-house", including the custom shell that cradles the oscillator. TransEar 270 was introduced as a half-shell unit rather than the earlier full-shell unit. Feedback cancellation circuitry was added.
October 2008 marked the introduction of TransEar 380-HF, a major breakthrough in bone conduction technology. (The "HF" stands for High Frequency.) This revolutionary product uses a newly developed high frequency bone vibrator, which has its peak energy at 2100 - 2300 Hz. (For comparison purposes, all other bone conduction devices peak around 800 Hz or less.) What does this mean to the user? It means that the key consonant sounds so important to understanding speech are emphasized - a true first in bone conduction products. In field trials,
users of the previous TransEar had on average almost double the word recognition when they switched to TransEar380-HF, and they understood speech at a volume 11 dB lower than before. Both represent huge advancements in audiological science.
TransEar380-HF also provides a high level of reliability, because the new vibration transducer is very shock-resistant. Finally, the new oscillator is so efficient that the vibrations can't be felt,
even when held in your hand. But those "invisible" oscillations speed through the bones of your skull faster than sound can travel through the air, sending the information you've been missing to the good ear for processing.
History of Clik®
In October 2009, Ear Technology launched Clik®, the first digital hearing aid that is configured without cables or computers.
Daniel R. Schumaier, Ph.D., came up with the idea of Clik because of his own frustration with computer systems that seem to crash at the most inconvenient times. While the industry has shifted to digital processing for good reasons such as better sound quality and more programming options, the downside is that it has increased dependence on specialized computer hardware and software.
Other digital hearing aids require a computer and proprietary software programs to fit hearing aids and frequently involve multiple visits to the provider’s office that are both costly and time-consuming. Clik follows a different path to better hearing: all of the tools needed to customize Clik for each user are pre-loaded onto its advanced, industry-first microprocessor.
Clik is actually a sophisticated computer packed into a mini Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aid. Various acoustic algorithms are sampled by simply clicking on a small button built into the hearing aid itself.
The hearing healthcare professional can “clik” through various settings for selection while the patient is wearing the hearing aid. Individuals who want to be even more “hands-on” with the hearing aid fitting process can actually make their own selections away from the office, in their own listening environments. This can be especially helpful in selecting the preferred option for the Noise program.
Clik is available only through licensed hearing healthcare professionals and provides premium technology at a non-premium price. Standard features of this fully digital hearing aid include directional microphones and a volume control, plus programs for quiet, noise and the telephone.
An interview with Dr. Daniel R. Schumaier, president of Ear Technology Corporation and inventor of Dry & Store and TransEar
“Ear Technology Corporation was originally formed in order to manufacture and distribute
“It’s the same thing with TransEar – I saw a need for a new bone conduction hearing aid and resolved to do something about it. And due to our success and years of experience with Dry & Store, I wasn’t afraid to develop and bring TransEar to market. There is something different about TransEar, though, because it’s the first product that we’re actually manufacturing ourselves. We’ve made a sizeable investment in leading-edge equipment to maintain our high quality standards, and our manufacturing employees are hired with those same standards in mind. We are fortunate to have a knowledgeable and stable staff, and it’s the quality of that staff that has enabled us to grow the business without adding a lot of overhead.
“Our international business has grown significantly with Dry & Store. Our instructions are printed in 30 languages, and Dry & Store is routinely shipped all over the world. TransEar, on the other hand, is still available only in North America, but we’re getting an increasing number of inquiries from overseas, suggesting that there is a great need for the product worldwide. In time, I’m positive that TransEar will also grow into a widely distributed product overseas, but there are mountains of regulatory hurdles to be overcome before that happens, so we are patient. In the meantime, we do have patent protections in place internationally.
“We’re a very focused company: we stick to what we know and what we do best. As far as trends go, we stay active in a number of professional organizations, so that network of dispensing audiologists and research colleagues keeps us abreast of technology advances as well as our understanding of the hearing process. But it still comes down to my patients who are the primary source of inspiration. In daily practice we face real-world challenges, and Ear Technology specializes in providing practical, real-world solutions. Our company motto says it well: We’re helping people hear better, every day.”