What are CROS and BICROS Hearing Devices? What Does a CROS Aid Look Like? How Does a CROS Aid Work?

by | Dec 19, 2019 | Hearing Aids, Patient Resources, Technology

The key difference between the devices is that one is a traditional hearing device.

Am I A Candidate for CROS and BICROS Hearing Devices?

CROS and BICROS technology has been used for many years as the best way to address Single Sided Deafness (SSD). SSD deafness describes situations when a patient has profound hearing loss or very poor word discrimination on one side, with better hearing or even normal hearing sensitivity on the opposite ear.

What is the difference between CROS and BICROS?

CROS and BICROS are two terms that are often used together. In either set up, a device is worn on the better ear and a CROS device is worn on the poorer ear. The function of the CROS transmitter is to pick up sound from that side of head, similar to a traditional hearing device, but then transmit it to the opposite ear. If the opposite ear presents with normal hearing sensitivity, the term CROS is used to described the set up.

If a hearing loss is present in the better ear, a hearing device will provide adequate amplification for that ear, while also wirelessly receiving input from the CROS device, allowing for the technology to address hearing loss in both ears. The term BICROS is used to describe this technology arrangement.

How do CROS and BICROS devices work?

The CROS or BICROS system is set up to allow speech and sound from the poorer ear to be picked up by a microphone and then transmitted to a hearing device worn on the better hearing ear. How is this useful in everyday situations? Think of when you’re sitting next to someone in a car, a restaurant, or maybe a meeting. If they are sitting on the side where you have your biggest hearing challenges, it will be difficult to hear what they are saying. Many times, you may find you are turning your head to allow your better hearing ear to be closer to them.

While this helps, it’s unnatural and can be quite uncomfortable. With CROS/BICROS technology, now you don’t have to turn your head so that your better side can hear them. They can speak naturally and the microphone on the CROS device will pick up their voice, transmit it to the device on the better ear, and you get back your 360 hearing abilities.

What does a CROS and BICROS device look like?

The devices look identical. They can come in receiver-in-the-ear (RIC), behind-the-ear, or in-the-ear styles, depending on your preference. As technology continues to evolve, more and more styles and options are available.

The key difference between the devices is that one is a traditional hearing device. This means it has microphones to pick up the sounds in the environment, and it also has a speaker so that the sound can get into your ear canal, to get to your ear drum for you to hear it. The CROS device on the other hand has the same microphone, but it does not utilize a speaker. Because it is worn on the ear with the least amount of hearing or speech intelligibility, there is no sound output from this device. Instead, the sound is wirelessly sent to the traditional device on the better ear so that it can be heard. Looking at the two devices, they will look the same but function differently.

How is the Oticon CROS different?

Hearing technology in the last few years has come a long way with noise reduction abilities that help you better understand in background noise and crowds. CROS technology builds on these capabilities to ensure you are maximizing the 360-degree technology and hearing sounds from all sides.
The goal of previous CROS technology was to make speech and sounds audible on the side with the most hearing challenges. Now that technology has evolved and many patients are streaming audio from their smart phones, previous CROS technology was not able to bring in environmental sound while the opposite aid was in streaming mode. Oticon CROS technology has now eliminated that barrier, giving a patient the ability to stream and hear sounds around them at the same time. Why is this important? Pretend you are wearing a CROS or BICROS device and you are watching television with a loved one. If that loved one is sitting next to you, but not closest to your better ear, this can introduce a number of hearing challenges and can take away from the experience. With CROS technology, you naturally get the benefits of being able to better understand your loved one no matter what side they are sitting on, while also hearing the television directly in your hearing devices.

The improvements to CROS technology give patients the ability to hear their best in all situations and stay connected to those around them. If you are a candidate for a CROS or BICROS hearing device, contact your audiologist to learn more about the latest in technology enhancements.

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Jana Emola-Austin, Au.D.

Raised in Bryan, Texas, Jana completed her undergraduate studies at Texas A&M University before attending the University of North Texas with an ambition to earn her master’s degree in speech pathology. However, a required audiology class soon set her on a new career path. She became enthralled with the subject and says audiology resonated with her because it involved everything she enjoys – helping people to improve their lives and relationships with others and using technology to make positive impacts. Following this revelation, Jana went on to graduate with her Doctor of Audiology degree. After many years of assisting patients in the clinic on a daily basis, Jana’s main responsibilities at Allison Audiology have shifted to a management role. She now works behind the scenes focusing on administrative, management, and marketing responsibilities.