Audiolite: The Main Features

Audiolite is a Type –II B Audiometer, that comes under the Hybrid category. Audiolite is a single channel Digital Audiometer with the signals generated being transmitted through the same channel. It’s a truly hybrid audiometer in the sense that the equipment could be operated in a stand alone mode as well in PC (computer) based mode. While in stand alone mode, the audiometer could be operated with the controls made available in the front control panel; and while in PC based mode, the audiometer could be operated using the unique software application –Labat Audiological Platform: AudioSoft. It’s a completely packed software application which would enable in providing total solution to the practicing audiologists in the domain of Audiological test administration.

The test facilities made available with Audiolite includes Standard Puretone Audiometry, Short Increment Sensitivity Index Test (SISI), Tone Decay Test (TDT), Speech Audiometry, and Alternate Binaural Loudness Balance Test (ABLB). These five tests could be independently administered in stand alone mode as well in PC mode.

The most attractive feature of this audiometer is the design & construction. Audiolite is designed and constructed in such a manner, so as to facilitate the ease of operation as well enhance the aesthetic appearance. Audiolite is brilliantly sized with the much needed compactness; at the same time without compromising the ease of operation and the test functions that is made available in it. This is achieved with the high end technology employed at the R&D cell of Labat Asia. All the external cable connections are located almost underneath on to the rear side of the audiometer enclosure such that they appear almost hidden when placed on a table. Indeed a very brilliant thought in the product development process to keep the external connections in a concealed manner.

The control panel of Audiolite is beautifully designed to give a charismatic look. Three LCD screens are placed on the top of the control panel which displays the ongoing frequency & intensity levels during test administration, thus giving the examiner an excellent digital numerical display of the test parameters.

The control panel of Audiolite in itself gives an excellent visual feedback to the examiner with regard to the ongoing test administration process. The ongoing test frequency & intensity levels are displayed in the LCD screens. The other test functions and stimulus parameters are indicated with a digital glow of LED. Thus as a whole, the control panel not only serves as the source of test administration controls; but also acts as a source of feedback to the examiner with regards to controls in active use as well the test/stimulus parameters in active use. Indeed an excellent feature!

Further, in this audiometer, various controls are placed in the control panel in accordance to the ease of use and in accordance to the frequency of use. All the controls which needs frequent application are placed at the bottom of the panel so as to achieve maximum & easy access during the process of test administration. Indeed a design that maximizes the ease of operation!

Audiolite can generate two types of test signals namely, puretone & warble tone. While puretone could be utilized for the routine conventional audiometric procedure, warble tone could be the preferred choice of test signal during free field audiometry. Apart from these signals, Audiolite generates masking noises of the nature ‘Narrow Band’ & “Wide Band”; thus facilitating effective masking signals adequate enough to mask the puretones and speech signals respectively. Facility of a ‘pulsed tone’ is an added benefit to conventional continuous puretone signal.

Audiolite facilitates three modes of test signal transmission namely ‘Air Conduction’, ‘Bone Conduction’ & ‘Free-Field Transmission’. Transmission of test signal vide air conduction is facilitated with TDH earphones supported with headband of sufficient tension; transmission of test signal vide bone conduction is facilitated with Radioear B71 bone vibrator; and through free field by the loudspeaker specified & recommended by Labat Asia. Circumaural earphones are provided to enhance noise reduction.

Audiolite also comprises of an efficient ‘Talk Over’ & ‘Talk Back’ systems which would enable the examiner to communicate to & fro with the patient under consideration. This mechanism is highly useful to implement speech audiometry test procedures. A very handy and convenient ‘Patient Response Switch’ makes the patient response mechanism more effective even for old patients who has issues with fine dexterity.

Since Audiolite is a truly Hybrid Audiometer, all functions related to the test administration process could be effected practically in an independent manner. This is reflected in the presence of control buttons for marking the thresholds, saving the thresholds, marking the no response levels, and even for the cancellation of the recorded result data. (apart from making available these functions in the software mode with greater flexibility)

Another attractive feature is the manner in which the VU monitoring system is incorporated in Audiolite. This is only evident during Live Voice testing under speech audiometry. The VU display is designed in such a way that its visible on the control panel marking only when the live voice mode is turned on with an activated ‘Talk Over’. Otherwise, the display remains concealed. Incredible Design!

Audiolite also has an inbuilt memory to store data of 8000 plus patients. Indeed a test memory of this magnitude reflects the extent of use that is possible with this audiometer.

Audiolite also comes in different versions so as to accommodate the needs & desires of the user. And according to the ascending order of versions, the test features/facilities are enhanced, which would even include and increase in the test facility, enhancements in the testing range, additions in various stimulus related functions and so on. The best part of this audiometer is that –Audiolite of any version can be upgraded to the next higher level without changing the prevailing equipment. This proves to be a blessing for all Hearing Health Practitioners who wishes to start small, but eventually expand in the process of growth.

For those hearing health practitioners, who are busy engaged with the jobprofile of just looking at the assessment of hearing function in terms of the ability tohear with fundamental diagnostic interpretations, Audiolite stands perfectly suitable forthe kind of Audiometer required to serve the purpose. The range of practitioners whofall in this category would include those performing hearing screening with behavioralmeasures, Industrial Audiologists, practitioners associated with primary/secondarymedical centers, Rehabilitation Audiologists, Hearing Aid Dispensing specialists,Primary Hearing Health Care centers, ….and all those hearing health specialists whoprovide first hand information on human hearing status. This really gives a very widepicture with regard to the scope of utilization of this audiometer –The Audiolite.

In its true conventional sense, an audiometer is an instrument that is used tomeasure human hearing sensitivity. To be precise, an audiometer traces the lowestlevel at which an individual can hear across a given range of frequencies. Audioliteperforms this task; as well few others. Although, it’s regarded as the entry levelaudiometer, it is in realty, a little above the given category. It has few test facilities thatcan give fair impression about the type of hearing loss, nature of hearing loss, and aswell fairly pin point the site of lesion using traditional test procedures. Audiolite, as anaudiometer also assesses the speech recognition ability of humans with monitored livevoice testing. Apart from all these, Audiolite is also a ‘Hybrid’ Audiometer, with a dualnature of being able to survive in a ‘Stand Alone’ mode and also in computer mode,with the equipment being operated independently from a personal computer using itsown signature software application called ‘Audiosoft’. What more an entry levelaudiometer do require? Audiolite surpasses all other audiometers in the saidcategory, making it truly distinct & outstanding; and topping the list of all audiometersacross the brand of manufacturers in all aspects of quality, construction, design,functions & price. Indeed a rare digital breed, a hybrid audiometer, -The Audiolite.

As for an audiometer that we have seen traditionally, Audiolite makes its way asa very compact Audiometer, with superior design & construction. Audiolite iscompactly designed and constructed to compete in/across global markets. The compactsize of this audiometer makes it very easy to handle & operate, apart from enhancingits portability. Audiolite is very ideal for mass hearing screening programs likeconducting off-clinic hearing assessment camps, since it could be very easily carriedand transported much conveniently & single handedly. Audiolite is also theaudiometer of choice for those Hearing Health Specialists visiting multiple clinics, whowish to have their own personal audiometer for the assessment of hearing. Its also theaudiometer of choice in mobile set ups, where hearing screening is conducted in amobile context (vehicle), which travels from place to place. Since high end technology isemployed in the construction of Audiolite hardware, it is highly resistant to minimalvibrations thus making its calibration status very sturdy.

The dual nature of this audiometer also enhances the ‘Face Value’ of any clinicwhere Audiolite is installed and is in operation. The charismatic look that it offers andthe flexibility to be operated using a personal computer makes this audiometer farsuperior than any other audiometer in this category. The benefits that could be accruedwith computer administration of the test procedures are the many ‘valuable extras’ thatthis audiometer provides which is strongly adequate to compete with any advancedaudiometer. Yet, Audiolite maintains its simplicity by being user friendly to itscustomers with the competitive advantage of its pricing tag; thus making thisaudiometer the most preferable among the Hearing Health Care Practitioners!

The long wait of those concerned with practice of Audiology, and the intense efforts & courageous strong determination of the entire R&D crew at Labat Asia has paved the way in bringing out its first indigenous Audiometer –The Audiolite. Indeed, I would call it a ‘First Edition’ Audiometer, since there are variants in features that could be effected in the process, giving the product (Audiolite) additional enhancements to suit the needs & desires of the professionals involved in the practice of Hearing Science; as well to update with technological advancements.
At the first instance, I have depicted the emergence of Audiolite to the long wait of professionals involved in the practice of Hearing Science; since there was high need of audiometers that would compete universally and at the same time be placed comfortably in the budget range of Indian users. And, I could very confidently say that the R&D crew at Labat Asia has done 100% justice in the product development process of this Audiometer –Audiolite, making it technologically advanced as well within the pocket range of majority of Indian users. A rare quality that is seen in present day Audiometers universally. This is because Labat Asia envisions to bring the technological advancements within the reach of common man.

Secondly, the emergence of Audiolite as a full fledged entry level Audiometer is attributed to the intense hard work & strong determination of the R&D at Labat Asia because venturing into the Audiometer equipment research & development has taken place at a time, when industry was witnessing a backtrack with different manufacturing companies in India diversifying their objectives to other product packages. This was indeed a bold & courageous decision to stay on to the segment of Audiology equipment division; bringing technological advancements & pricing of the product as a benchmark quality in the mission that involved. And the result is R&D efforts at Labat Asia has given birth to a unique Audiometer, a hybrid Audiometer called Audiolite; which shall certainly have its own variant products in the days to come.

What is unknown to the outside world is the determination & strong will power based on imagination & future vision of the corporate head at Labat Asia, that made this audiometer come to reality, despite many major odds faced at the corporate helm. The domain knowledge provided by the Labat, Italy proved handy in further accelerating the product development process related to the emergence of Audiolite. The innumerous inputs from Audiology sources further facilitated fine tuning of the equipment. In fact, this could be considered just as a beginning as far as the Indian Industry is concerned, for a corporate of Indian origin to compete globally in the Audiology Equipment Division.
Yes, the good news is flashing! Audiolite, a hybrid Audiometer that could function as a stand along equipment using the control keys on the front panel; and as well as a PC (computer) based one that enables in operating the equipment functions using a highly user friendly software application (Audiosoft) has finally emerged in the market for potential buyers. The audiometer is creating waves in terms of its competitiveness, self ready to compete globally; and also with the added benefit & advantage of being priced very competitively.

It’s a proud moment for Labat Asia Pvt. Ltd to announce its launch of new generation Hybrid Audiometers at the start of this year. The Audiometers have been launched for commercial use along the sidelines of 50th ISHACON, held at All India Institute of Speech & Hearing, Naimisham Campus, Mysore.

Labat Asia Pvt. Ltd., has introduced & added two new Audiometers to the Labat series of products. These products which would serve the first among the series of Hybrid Audiometers are named as Audiolite & Audiolab+. These two audiometers would serve as true Hybrid Audiometers, that could be operated in pure stand alone mode as well in software controlled PC based mode. While Audiolite would serve to suit the purpose of technologically advanced entry level product; Audiolab+ would serve in presenting itself to function in the intermediate range of audiometers. With the launch of these two products, Labat otherwise popular for its high end PC based products in offering Audiological solutions; have now emerged to fill the vacuum seen at the respective levels, which the practicing professionals across the globe have long desired for.

Audiolite is a single channel Diagnostic Digital Audiometer with provision of doing Conventional Puretone Audiogram along with SISI, TDT & ABLB tests. Additional tests include Speech Audiometry, Free Field Testing & VRA. Includes an inbuilt test memory for 8000 plus patients. Comes with circumaural earphone headset that enhances Noise Reduction. Employs digital numerical display for frequency & intensity levels.

Audiolab+ is a Two channel Diagnostic Digital Audiometer featuring 17 test facilities that includes Conventional Puretone Audiogram, SISI, TDT, ABLB, MLB, Speech Audiometry, Free Field Testing, VRA, EHFA, Stenger, Lombard, Langenbeck, Bekesy Audiometry, Tinnitus Matching, Quick SIN, TEN Test & MLD. Has provision for Monitored Live Voice, Recorded Voice & Embedded Voice in stimulus presentation during speech audiometry. Includes an inbuilt test memory for 8000 plus patients. Comes with circumaural earphone headset that enhances Noise Reduction; apart from having choice of transducers. Large LCD display monitor in the control panel with unique control panel push button switches facilitating smooth & gentle operation of the device. Another major feature of this product is that if facilitates simulation of Audiograms that would be beneficial in academic training process. Also utilizes Automatic Test Protocols supported with strong Algorithms.

Apart from the stated features, these hybrid products are very competitively priced with marvelous Design & Construction with enhanced ease of operation. Both are comparatively small in size, light weight and enhances portability. Indeed a boon for working professionals who desires to have high end technology within the reach of their arms in all aspects –cost, technology, reliability, face value & portability.

Audiometer, though considered as the basic equipment to assess the function of hearing, has undergone significant transformation since its inception almost 100 years ago. The audiometer though emerged as an instrument to check hearing levels across a given range of frequencies, has today taken a vast spectrum of roles in determining various aspects of hearing function. Eventually as the role of Audiometer widened, there emerged the requirement of classifying the Audiometer based on the tests done & the test facilities made available. Accordingly, the audiometer which was initially introduced to measure & quantify the hearing level was sooner exposed to meet & explore various other related functions of hearing. The term Audiometer still prevailed for all these equipments though the Audiometer was categorized into different types. Now, all these were the events in history, in the pre-digital era. We are now into the digital era of this modern world ruled by technology, with technological advances influencing & penetrating into this field of Audiological Science & Audiological instrumentation with great success. Integration of various technologies led to the development of precision devices that would facilitate objective measurements of the functions related to hearing mechanism. The term Audiometer started loosing significance & marked the beginning of its disappearance in reference to the precision high end objective devices. Hence a renewed look (by this author) gave birth to a realization towards the need for a novel nomenclature in this digital era with a broader concept in terming & classifying the most sacred instrument – “The Audiometer”.

Audiometer – The prevailing definitions:

Audiometer is an electronic instrument designed for the measurement of hearing sensitivity, and for the calibrated delivery of supra-threshold stimuli. (Stach, B.A, 2003. Comprehensive Dictionary of Audiology, Illustrated,  Delmar Cengage Learning; 2nd Revised edition.)

An Audiometer is an electronic instrument, used by an Audiologist to quantify hearing. (Stach, B.A, 1998. Clinical Audiology: An Introduction, Cengage Learning).

There are several types of Audiometers, that are classified primarily based on their functions. Initially, it was classified broadly into Clinical Audiometer & Screening Audiometer based on the extent of functions that the Audiologist might want to use for hearing assessment.

The Audiometer is an essential tool of the Audiologist for measuring hearing function. An Audiometer is an electronic instrument designed for the presentation of calibrated auditory stimuli to transducers. (DeRuiter, M., Ramachandran, V. 2016. Basic Audiometry Learning Manual, Plural Publishing, 2nd Edition)

An Audiometer is an electro-acoustic device that produces controlled levels of test tones and signals intended for use in conducting diagnostic hearing evaluations and assist in the diagnosis of possible  otologic disorders. (Code of Federal Regulations, FDA, 1985-1999, Pg. 300)

An Audiometer is a primary tool used by the Audiologists in the assessment of peripheral hearing sensitivity. (Frank E.Musiek, Jain A Baran, Jennifer B Shinn, Raleigh Jones, 2011, Disorders of the Auditory System, Pg. 63, Plural Publishing)

Classification of Audiometers –The prevailing categories:

International Electro-technical Commission (IEC), 1980 classifies Audiometers into 5 types:

This classification is based on the range of features and complexity of the functions available within the equipment for the assessment of hearing function. The number of features and the extent to which it assesses the various hearing functions differs in each of these types and these features & functions generally decreases as we proceed from Type -1 Audiometer to Type -5 Audiometer. As such, these types are broadly classified as:

Type -1 Audiometer ®Advanced Diagnostic Audiometer.

Type -2 Audiometer ®Diagnostic Audiometer

Type -3 Audiometer ® Simple Diagnostic Audiometer

Type -4 Audiometer ® Screening Audiometer

Type -5 Audiometer ® Simplest Audiometer

A very brief description of these audiometer types is given as below:

Type-1 Audiometer: (Advanced Diagnostic Audiometer)

Type-2 Audiometer: (Diagnostic Audiometer)

Type-3 Audiometer: (Simple Diagnostic Audiometer)

Type-4 Audiometer: (Screening Audiometer)

Thus, its seen that Audiometers are classified according to the range of test signals they generate, according to the mode of operation or according to the complexity of the range of auditory functions they test. In such a classification, the Audiometer is not equipped to measure all the aspects & functions related to hearing mechanism.

 

Though Audiometers, in early 1920’s & 1930’s were mainly used to measure the hearing, confining the audiologic services to the measurement of hearing level to certify the degree of hearing handicap; developments in the field of hearing measurements for diagnostic, hearing conservation and rehabilitation purposes have resulted in the availability of a wide range of audiometers suited to assess more specialized functions of hearing mechanisms. In addition it is possible to consider the audiometer in terms of a set of functional units which can be specified independently. By specifying these functional units it is then possible to specify the performance of other audiometric equipment which uses these units.

Proposed Definition for Audiometer: (Proposed by this author)

An Audiometer is an electronic device that is capable of generating different calibrated acoustic stimuli, necessary for the examiner to assess various aspects of hearing mechanism.

Functions of Audiometer:

Functionally, Audiometer is used to:

  1. Quantify hearing.
  2. To determine the pathologic site in the ear.
  1. To aid in the differential diagnosis of various auditory pathologies.
  2. To estimate the speech discrimination ability, thereby facilitating evaluation of communication competency that would reveal the extent of prevailing disability.

Applications with Audiometer:

Audiometer can be used as:

Components of Audiometer:

Although the micro-components of audiometer might vary with reference to the purpose with which it is manufactured to assess; any & all Audiometers basically consists of:

So, if Audiometer is what it was initially considered as an equipment that is used in the measurement of hearing & hearing disability, then there exists similar equipments which could be used for the assessment & measurement of hearing & hearing disability; which are known by the following names:

  1. Immittance Audiometer/Middle Ear Analyzer/Impedance Audiometer.
  2. Equipments to measure Otoacoustic Emissions known under various names. (OAE equipments or could also be termed as Otoacoustic Emission Audiometer)
  3. Equipments to measure Auditory Brainstem Activity, known under the names ABR, BERA, BSERA, AEP,.. etc. (could also be termed as Evoked Potential Audiometer)

According to World Report on Disability, prepared by WHO (World Health Organization), “disability is a complex, dynamic, multidimensional & contested one”. Hearing disability, which is regarded as one of the most invisible disability (hidden disability), is therefore a complex multidimensional experience that poses several challenges for measurement. As such any single equipment would not be sufficient enough to precisely assess & measure the hearing function to suit the wide range of clinical population, considering the high rate of associated disorders that prevail along with hearing impairment and the prevalence of hearing impairment right from birth. While the conventional so called ‘early audiometers’ need patient cooperation for the measurement of hearing function; very often Audiologists have to depend on sophisticated equipments (OAE equipments & Evoked Potentials (EP) equipments) to confirm the hearing function. This is very likely in case of newborns, difficult to test patients & patients who has limited access to competent communication. Hence the Audiologists need to have multiple access to equipments to measure the hearing and subsequently confirm the disability factor.

Going by the functional definition of Audiometer, all these devices (Immittance Audiometer, OAE equipment, EPequipment) are electronic devices that generates different acoustic signals necessary for the Clinical Audiologist to assess various aspects of hearing mechanism. This is well substantiated with the presence of basic components that are common in all these equipments. (i.e., Oscillator, Attenuator, Interrupter & Transducers; however in different forms).

Audiometer has changed its form & function since its inception almost 100 years back. It was initially a huge bulky equipment which comprised of only analog components in the making. Present day Audiometer (and perhaps all future audiometers) has witnessed the transition from its old form towards a new generation of Audiometers whose making is facilitated with exclusive digital technology, suited to perform multiple functions that would aid in the measurement of hearing and precisely categorize the disability factor. Thus the present day audiometer would be embedded with microprocessors and programmers that would aid in precise detection of various hearing functions.

Thus it is very much evident that various approaches need to be considered and adopted to accurately measure the hearing disability. A single measure with a single equipment would be too less to bring out this “Hidden Disability” into light, given the wide nature of circumstances that hides it.

Hence, the necessity to have a broader classification of Audiometer types arises.

 

Proposed Nomenclature for Audiometer: (Proposed by this author)

Here, Audiometers are classified based on the following factors:

  1. Based on the purpose of assessment.
  2. Based on the available range & limits within which the acoustic signals could be generated.
  3. Based on the hearing mechanism tested.
  4. Based on the behavioral & objective mode of test process.

 

Here, no attempt is made to make any changes in the ‘Standards’; rather this document focuses on a broader conception & classification of the term ‘Audiometer’; considering the multiple assessment procedures that could be utilized to include and evaluate various aspects & functions related to hearing mechanism. This classification would enable in categorizing all equipments belonging to hearing screening objective under Type –I Audiometer termed as “Screening Audiometer” (SA); all equipments that employ diagnostic measures in the assessment of hearing functions & rely on behavioral responses under Type -II Audiometer termed as “Comprehensive Clinical Audiometer” (CCA); all equipments related to the measurements of middle ear functions under Type –III Audiometer termed as “Immittance Audiometer” (IA); all equipments that employ an objective method of response recording during the process of hearing assessment under Type –IV Audiometer termed as “Advanced Diagnostic Audiometer” (ADA); all equipments that evaluate the balance function using acoustic stimuli as the input stimulus under Type –V Audiometer termed as “Vestibular Audiometer” (VA). Thus a clear cut distinction prevails in the classification of Audiometers in this new era of digital & advanced digital technology, thereby bringing in a wider dimension towards the conception of this sacred equipment –The Audiometer!

 

References:

WHO, 2011. World Report on Disability.

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