Behind Airlink 2: The successful cooperation between two consultancies
Flexible project management and open lines of communication between GN ReSound, hardware developers at RTX and mechanical designers at Medicologic solved the challenges of this three-way development of the innovative, wireless Airlink 2.
– We each contributed with our own core competences, says Michael Funder, CEO of Medicologic. – And we all worked closely together to reach our goal, to fit the innovative software of GN ReSound and hardware of RTX into a device that was small, handy and in line with the general design specifications of GN ReSound. We are quite prepared to enter into a collaborative development with other consultancies on future assignments.
The Airlink 2 is an improvement over the original Airlink with greater range and optional Bluetooth technology, which is compatible with the next generation of hearing aids. The Airlink 2 provides dispensers worldwide with reliable wireless transmission between the computer software and the hearing aids.
– It makes it much easier and more comfortable to program and adjust the hearing aids to the needs of the individual user, Program Manager Torben Visler, GN ReSound, explains. – Without the need for wires and with a greater range, the Airlink 2 allows the hearing aid user to move about and relax.
GN ReSound had previously collaborated with Medicologic and RTX separately, but for this project, they needed an external project manager as well as electronic development and mechanical design. RTX and Medicologic joined forces to deliver a complete consultancy package for the project.
– The three-way collaboration made the process slightly more complex, says Project Manager Flemming Andersen, RTX. – But there was no need to complicate communication between our partners, so we worked with Medicologic on the hardware issues, with GN ReSound on other hardware and software issues, and GN ReSound and Medicologic worked together on the design.
For GN ReSound it was paramount that the Airlink 2 followed the same design line as their hearing aids and other wireless accessories. It should be aesthetically pleasing so that it would have its place on the dispensers’ tables at all times. Were it to be stowed away because it was not pleasing to the eye it might interfere with the wireless connection.
– At the same time, the housing had to be durable, easy to mold and designed for easy assembly with the PCB, says Michel Funder. – In this process, we made several prototypes, which went back and forth between RTX and us. The object was to make the Airlink 2 as small and handy as possible and still encompass the necessary electronics.
– The biggest challenge for Medicologic turned out to be the light indicators. GN Resound wanted the light to be visible 360° around the device. It was a bit tricky but acrylic light guides did the trick.
Good management and communication
Medicologic’s design engineer went to China to oversee the making of the prototypes at the production facility there. Testing took places here in Denmark and after final approval from GN ReSound, Airlink 2 was officially launched last fall.
– It would obviously have been easier to have the project management in-house, but we are prepared to work this way again, so long as the interfaces are manageable, says Torben Visler. – The fact that our partners did not have direct access to our database was a challenge, but due to good management and good communication, we brought the project to a very satisfactory outcome.
Medicologic has participated in other collaborative efforts and, indeed, this seems to be a trend:
– Medical devices of the future will often require a wide range of competences for their development to ensure user friendliness, durability, aesthetically pleasing design, says Michael Funder. – The challenge for consultancies such as ours will be to work together and manage the various projects. I think Airlink 2 is a good example of this.
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- Client: GN ReSound
- Categories: Research and Development