Behind the scenes of R&D in 1910, Berlin, Germany

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Our future started in 1878.

Ignacio Martinez, CEO Sivantos Group

Our legacy

Sivantos Group has a proud history of entrepreneurship, courage, scientific curiosity and the will to help others. It’s a story of adventurous people, great ideas, failure, and refusing to accept failure that eventually led to becoming successful in helping millions of people live better lives.

In fact, dedication to helping improve the daily lives of the hard of hearing has long been a tradition for our company. Do you want to know how we got here?

Let’s go back in time.

    2010s

    The 2010s is a decade of significant milestones and transformation. Retailer HearUSA joins the group and soon establishes HearCanada. audibene, an online hearing care portal in four European countries also becomes a part of the group, to only mention the first joiners.

    Siemens sell their business unit “Siemens Audiology Solutions” and make “Sivantos” happen. And a new premium brand, called Signia, starts convincing the markets.

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    In 2018, Sivantos brought the world’s first SLIM-RIC hearwear to the market: Styletto combines style with high-tech hearing. The slim portable charging case enables four days of user autonomy, free from plugs or cables.

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    Growth and forming strong and future-orientated relationships is a main goal in 2018: French hearing aid provider Biotone Technologies joins Sivantos Group as a new business partner for France and Morocco, we become the majority shareholder of Comunicare Aparelhos Auditivos, the biggest reseller of our premium brand Signia in Brazil. To combine advanced audiologic solutions with leading hearing health care services, our US affiliate enters into a strategic partnership with TruHearing, a major hearing healthcare benefits solution provider for the United States.

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    You need to re-invent yourself constantly if you want to stay successful. Another big step towards this constant re-invention is our new Headquarters in Singapore (November 2017). Its interior design supports collaboration, innovativeness and future-thinking.

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    Automatization on one hand, fine craftmanship on the other: manufacturing 2017 in Singapore.

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    In January 2016, we introduced our new premium brand: Signia. Shawnae Jebbia, a former Miss America who is hard of hearing, is happy to be our testimonial again. Signia stands for hearing innovations that center on the customer’s needs and deliver the highest level of quality and satisfaction.

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    Also in 2016 Sivantos Group launches Cellion, the world’s first inductive rechargeable hearing aid with a lithium-ion power cell. As all products at that time, the charger is double-branded to support a smooth transition from Siemens to Signia in the markets.

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    2015 audibene joins Sivantos Group as the online hearing care company. The company is founded in early 2012 by Marco Vietor and Paul Crusius to harness the power of the internet and deliver high-quality hearing care to first-time customers. They are today's global leader for online hearing care.

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    In January 2015, Sivantos Group is founded, after Siemens Audiology business is sold to EQT and Strüngmann family. First thing to do: informing the employees.

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    In 2011, HearUSA joins Sivantos Group. Originally known as HEARx, HearUSA opened its first hearing care center in Florida, in 1987. Fifteen years later, with the acquisition of a national hearing care company, HearUSA was founded.

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    2014 we introduce yet another world’s first: The innovative platform contains a wireless system to connect hearing aids on both ears. The hearing aids can now also share and exchange audio signals with each other and thereby imitate natural hearing processes. This is the result of systematic further development of the e2e wireless technology, first launched in 2004.

    2000s

    The early 2000s is the era to concentrate on traditional strengths.

     

    And to improve internal processes. Most important focus: innovative products.

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    In 2004, Acuris is launched. The world’s first hearing system in which the right and left devices are wirelessly synchronized. This makes it easier for the wearer to hear with a more accurate sense of space. The picture shows an Acuris device connected to a 2CC coupler, used for testing, measuring and fitting the hearing aid.

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    Maybe it's because of the "cool" factor of wearing a hip hearing device that can be changed to match your personal style. Or perhaps it is the young, sexy campaign that is created. Whatever the reason, Vibe is turning heads and drawing the public's attention toward new solutions for hearing loss in 2006.

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    A hearing test is always the best way to find out how to help. This picture is from 2004. In the picture’s background you spot Connexx, the software for fitting our hearing aids.

    1990s

    Following decades of gradual improvements, a new era in hearing aid technology begins in 1997. The world’s first completely digital hearing aid with two microphones is launched and called Prisma.

    The Unity System is introduced in 1996, and allows hearing care professionals to measure and adjust these instruments.

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    At a first glance these pieces look similar to skyscrapers so their connection to the production process of hearing aids is not immediately obvious. These are copper electrodes used to manufacture plastic injection molds with CNC machines.

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    The anechoic chamber imitates the acoustic conditions of being in the open air. There are no reflections from the walls, floor or ceiling which could affect the measurements. This is crucial for testing the microphones' responses. A picture from the 90s.

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    With the development of the hearing aids, audiometers need to offer more complex and precise solutions, such as our Unity system, 1996.

    1980s

    This decade is one of acquisitions: With Rexton and Audio Service, Sivantos Group significantly expands its product range.

    We start serving markets in Asia and become the global market leader.

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    1988 is the year when Horst Peter Hühne, founder of Audio Service, sells his shares to A&M Hearing Aids in Crawley and becomes a subsidiary of today’s Sivantos Group. Since their beginning in 1977, Audio Service has focused on manufacturing ITE (In-the-Ear) hearing aids. The same year Audio Service becomes part of Sivantos Group they expand their product range to include BTE (Behind-the-Ear) devices. The picture shows manufacturing in the early 80s.

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    In 1987, the first remote control for hearing aids, Telos, is launched. It enables the wearers to adjust their hearing aids easily and comfortably by themselves.

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    In 1986, Rexton International joins us. Rexton is founded in 1955 by Paul Bommer and starts production two years later. The picture shows how the hearing aid casings were produced in a precision mechanics workshop in Switzerland. Today, Rexton is a well-known brand with distribution in over 70 countries.

    1970s

    This is a decade of economic awakening as we begin to capture the markets in Europe and North America.

    A&M joins today’s Sivantos Group.

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    “You understand each other better with Siemens hearing aids." This is what the middle sign of this 70s shop window decoration reads. Apart from the hearing devices and glasses it puts batteries, accessories and cleaning tools onto the stage. Interestingly the colors brown and orange are most present in this compilation, which makes the design rather typical for this decade. These two colors were very popular it-colors of the 70s and represented the lifestyle of being daring, conspicuous, powerful and creative. No wonder that the pocket hearing aids followed this trend, too. You can spot three of them in the middle of the picture. While these devices still had to be connected with headphones, BTE hearing aids became more popular at that time.

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    In 1977 A&M becomes part of Sivantos Group, but its own history extends to the beginning of the 1900s: Alexandra, the wife of Edward VII, then King of Great Britain and Ireland, is nearly deaf. Miller Reese Hutchison, an American engineer develops a hearing aid for Alexandra’s coronation ceremony. It’s called Akouphone. Back in the US, Mr. Hutchison founds the Hutchison Acoustic Company, which operates until 1905. It is then divided into three companies, among them Acousticon, which merges with the hearing aid company Multitone in 1975 to become Acousticon & Multitone (A&M). The picture shows another encounter with the British Royal Family: Princess Diana hands over an Export Award to A&M's former CEO in the early 80s.

    1960s

    New designs capture the market. It was in 1966 when Siemens succeeded in placing a hearing aid inside the ear.

    A huge advantage in the view of many wearers, as this type of hearing aid is even less visible.

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    Fine precision, microscopes and tweezers are still needed for assembling the hearing aid’s tiny pieces 50 years later. But in 1966 there are far more wires than there are nowadays.

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    The Siretta 339 is introduced in 1966. It is the first hearing aid from today's Sivantos Group to be worn entirely inside the ear.

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    Concentrating on sounds: For the best hearing aids’ performance, you need an individual fitting. The hearing care professional knows how to measure and adjust. This is how a hearing test is very often done in 1969.

    1950s

    Siemens launches the first hearing aids developed and produced in Erlangen, Germany, in 1951: The Phonophor Alpha. From then on, the number of hearing aids produced in Erlangen, climbs steeply.

    The audiology division grows rapidly, introducing a number of new technologies. And a new design is introduced: The Behind The Ear instrument.

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    When Siemens hearing aids are manufactured in Erlangen in 1950, there are just ten employees building about 500 units a year. More than 250 parts have to be put together at the assembling of the Phonophor Alpha. This picture from 1951 gives an insight into how the workplaces look at that time.

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    The basic design of electric hearing aids has remained the same since the early century: microphone, amplifier, earphone, and a battery. In the Auriculette, however, the components are so small and lightweight that they fit together in a single housing worn behind the ear. A true blockbuster in 1959.

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    Pictures showing hearing aids very often focus on their small size. A pocket aid in 1954 is as small as a box of matches. Which in fact is already a long way from the first purse-like devices at the beginning of the century. Also true: It’s still enormous compared to hearing aids 60 years later.

    1940s

    At the end of World War II almost all the plants in Berlin are destroyed or severely damaged. Siemens-Reiniger-Werke, based in Erlangen, becomes the branch of the company specializing in medical technology.

     

    They take over the audiological business in 1945 for a restart, nearly from scratch. But it does not take long to get the business back up and running.

    1930s

    In the 1930s many people with hearing loss still have to be convinced of the benefits of electric hearing aids. Alongside advertising and partnerships with ear specialists, a salesperson’s training is key.

    Hearing aid salesmen are predecessors of today’s audiologists, advising people with impaired hearing on how to choose the best model, explaining how to use it, and helping them get used to the device.

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    This is how the phonophor looks on a model in 1933. The goal of the new hearing aid models is to allow improved adaptation to different levels of hearing loss. Advances in microphone and speaker technology also make the new devices more convenient for users.

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    Becoming smaller and smaller, hearing aids are used more and more in many different environments, also in everyday working life as this picture from 1936 shows.

    1920s

    After the huge success of the first Phonophor models, Siemens & Halske expand hearing aid production activities at Berlin’s Wernerwerk plant.

    New materials and designs make the Phonophor lighter and more compact while advances in technology improve performance and sound quality.

     

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    This picture taken in 1929 shows a special hearing system that is transported in a suitcase and offers the possibility to improve the hearing of many users at the same time. It was used in churches, theaters, schools or in any place where it was needed.

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    The microphone casing is no longer made of metal but of the plastic Bakelite, 1928. A new plastic that noticeably reduces the Phonophor’s weight.

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    This French flyer (its upper part on the left, lower part on the right) shows how the "marvellous Phonophor" can be worn and names its advantages: "simple, hardly visible, improves the sense of hearing progressively".

    1910s

    The first Siemens hearing aids serial production starts in Berlin: the Esha-Phonophor. The first word is pronounced “es-ha” and mirrors the German pronunciation of S&H.

    S&H is the common abbreviation of the two founders Siemens and Halske. 100 years later, the device is to be seen in the medical museum in Erlangen, Germany – and still works!

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    Where Siemens & Halske used to produce telephone equipment, a small research lab is to be found. It’s here that Louis Weber develops the Phonophor and works on improvements, new models, and other types of hearing devices, such as “multi-user” hearing aid systems, 1914.

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    Berlin, 1911: Professor August Raps is the head of the Wernerwerk plant where telephones are being produced. He tasks his assistant, Louis Weber (Picture: 1913), with producing a device to help his friend Carl Kloenne who is hard of hearing – a mission that is going to radically change the company’s future.

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    The first series production of hearing aids takes place in Siemensstadt, Berlin. This picture shows plant Wernerwerk I in 1913.

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    Have a look inside plant Wernerwerk. This is where the hearing aids were manufactured in 1913.

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    There is even a ladies’ version of the hearing aid in 1914. Its microphone and battery are carried in a purse. Another version took the form of a folding camera, a popular accessory at the time, complete with a leather carrying strap.

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    In 1913 the phonophor is worn like a headset. Meanwhile its other components fit in the pocket of a coat.

    1900s

    As first steps in the development of electric hearing aids, Reiniger, Gebbert & Schall, a predecessor of Sivantos Group, begins building electric audio-meters.

    These produced a ringing sound by means of a special hammer that set magnetic coils in motion.

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    A hearing aid’s performance is only as good as the individual fit between the hearing aid and the wearer’s hearing ability. With this in mind, specialists prepare a graph called an audiogram. An audiogram for the first time ever yields insight into the patient’s hearing problem. This is one of the first electric audiometers by Prof. Dr. Urbantschitsch, 1902.

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    This is another electric audiometer from 1902. It was developed by Prof. Dr. Breitung to test the user's sense of hearing.

    1878

    Every day is a new discovery knows Werner von Siemens. Lucky us!

    Since this is why the roots of today’s Sivantos Group reach back to 1878.

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    It is in 1878, when Werner von Siemens builds a telephone with a horseshoe magnet, considerably improving the device’s voice quality. This leads to the discovery that the hard of hearing understand the person they are talking to much better if voice signals are amplified through electrical means.

    Historcal pictures provided by Sivantos Group and Siemens Healthineers MedArchiv