WS Audiology to Open Cutting-Edge Audiological Research Laboratory in Singapore

18 June 2024 | Tuesday | News

Supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board, the new ORCA Asia lab will advance hearing aid technology and improve hearing care for the Asian population, creating high-skilled jobs and fostering innovation in the region.
Advanced audiological testing in the state-of-the-art anechoic chamber at WSA's regional headquarters in  Tai Seng, Singapore. ORCA Asia is dedicated to pioneering research and innovation to address the unique  hearing needs of the Asian population.

Advanced audiological testing in the state-of-the-art anechoic chamber at WSA's regional headquarters in Tai Seng, Singapore. ORCA Asia is dedicated to pioneering research and innovation to address the unique hearing needs of the Asian population.

WS Audiology (WSA), a global leader in the hearing aid  industry, t announced it is opening an audiological research laboratory in  Singapore. Supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), WSA’s  Office of Research in Clinical Amplification (ORCA) Asia will be a research laboratory  dedicated to conducting audiological research for the Asian population. 

Globally, the World Health Organization estimates there are 1.6 billion people who  suffer from some kind of hearing loss.1 By 2050, that number will increase to 2.5 billion,  with at least 700 million requiring hearing rehabilitation. ORCA Asia will focus on  carrying out clinical research to assess and improve the performance of hearing aids  and the overall quality of hearing care.  

Built on a Foundation of Excellence  

Located in WSA’s regional headquarters in Tai Seng, Singapore, ORCA Asia exemplifies WSA’s long-standing commitment to innovation in the hearing aid industry and to  delivering optimal experiences for those with hearing loss. Singapore is a key research  and development (R&D) hub for WSA, with a strong R&D setup boasting more than 200  members. This helps drive global product innovation and serves as the gateway to the  Asia Pacific, one of the primary drivers of the company’s growth. Establishing a  specialized facility for auditory research will enhance WSA’s R&D capabilities, fostering  critical expertise in this niche field to better serve the Asian population. ORCA Asia will  create high-skilled jobs including roles such as research scientists, audiologists,  acoustic engineers, and systems engineers that will push the boundaries in hearing aid  technology. 

Formed in 2019, through the merger of Sivantos and Widex, WSA combines over 140  years’ experience in pioneering the use of technology to help people with hearing loss  hear the sounds that make life wonderful. Over the years, WSA’s Singapore site has  been instrumental in product development for hearing aids and hearing aid chargers,  rechargeability technology, and battery development. Notably, key products designed  in Singapore include the Styletto, the world's first slim hearing aid with a portable  charger, and the Signia Pure Charge&Go IX Hearing Aids, the world’s first hearing aid  that identifies and locks on to the voice of every person in a conversation, enhancing  their speech and reducing background noise. 

Milestone for Asia  

400 million people live with hearing loss in Southeast Asia alone.2 By 2050, 1 in 4 people  will be over the age of 60, indicative of an aging population likely to increase the need  for hearing care. ORCA Asia will play a pivotal role in providing innovative solutions to  address this crucial area of concern.  

“ORCA Asia will be the first auditory research center in Asia. We will be tackling  important regional issues such as improving hearing aid technology for Asian  languages. We recognize the varying linguistic and demographic profiles across the  region, and ORCA Asia will allow us to uncover information crucial for improving the  experience of those impacted by hearing loss,” said Joerg Brandscheid, Chief  Technology Officer at WSA. 

Given the diversity of this region, ORCA Asia will look into research that will better  understand the needs of the Asian population to deliver specific, novel solutions to  ensure that individuals with hearing loss can enjoy the same opportunities and quality  of life as those without.  

WHO, World Hearing Day statement by Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, SEA Regional Director,  2021

“We welcome WSA’s decision to set up ORCA Asia, which builds upon its long-standing  presence in Singapore as a hub for R&D, operations, manufacturing, and commercial  activities. This investment affirms Singapore’s position as a trusted location with  multidisciplinary talent for global MedTech companies to innovate and serve the  growing healthcare needs in Asia, and will bring new capabilities and job opportunities  to Singapore,” said Goh Wan Yee, Senior Vice President and Head for Healthcare at  EDB. 

Continuing a Legacy of Innovation  

ORCA Asia will be WSA’s third audiological research laboratory. Previously, ORCA US  was established in Chicago, USA in 2001. In 2007, ORCA Europe was subsequently  established in Stockholm, Sweden. Since then, both facilities have carried out valuable  research providing greater insight into several crucial areas of understanding including  hearing aid fitting and background noise reduction that can be utilized by R&D teams  to increase the performance of WSA’s hearing solutions. Similar ambitions are in sight  for ORCA Asia which is slated to open by 2026.


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