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FAQ14: What is this NEW "Digital Servox"? (and some FAQ's answered)

WW member Gene Storey wrote a "Digital Servox" query to Siemens asking some good questions. He got some good answers back from Siemens (Mary Pat Henke). Given the newness of the product, I thought this exchange worth sharing with all.

From: Gene Storey
Sent: Sunday, April 28, 2002 1:00 PM
To: Mary Pat Henke:
Subject: The New Digital Servox?

Why do they call it digital?
Will I be able to talk on the telephone with it?
Is there background noise with it?
Will I be able to talk to an audience without problems?
How soon will it be available?

From: Mary Pat Henke:
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2002 6:09 PM
To: Gene Storey
Subject: RE: The New Digital Servox?

Hello Gene

To answer your questions:

The Servox Inton and other electrolarynx units like it are analogue technology. Analogue technology is a sweeping glide over a set of frequencies to obtain pitch variation in electrolarynx units. Digital technology, on the other hand, allows for interval, measurable changes in frequency and volume. In addition, it allows for smaller parts. Now there are no moving parts in the control panel of the digital. Moving parts in the Inton and other units allowed for easier introduction of dirt and grime into the unit. The SERVOX digital is so compact, there will be less problems with dirt or breaking parts. Therefore, the Servox digital is even MORE durable than the Inton.

Other benefits of the digital technology:

Now the Servox digital's volume rocker switch is also a battery voltage indication light. When the battery is reduced to only 5.8 volts, the light blinks red. It is communicating to the user to go charge the battery! If the battery decreases to 5.4 volts, it turns off completely to avoid deep discharging of the battery. In addition, battery conservation occurs while using the unit! After speaking, if the unit is not in use, the user will feel a "pulse" from within the digital. This is the unit discontinuing any battery drainage while the digital is not being used for speech. All these benefits will prolong the life of the NiMH battery! Currently, a NiMH battery lasts for 1 1/2 to 2 years. With the digital, the battery will last AT LEAST this long, probably longer. Time will tell!

Digital technology also allows for the unit to offer 2 different pitches and 2 different volumes at one time. Now, you can pre-set 2 pitches, 2 different volumes. Imaging how handy that will be when you want to "whisper" something to someone, or if you are in a large crowd and need to quickly increase your volume to be heard more effectively.

Because digital technology allows for more compressed intervals of frequency, it offers 30 Hz more frequency range in the high pitch ranges. This is wonderful news for female laryngectomees. Whereas the Servox Inton has a frequency range of 50Hz to 170Hz, the SERVOX digital has a frequency range of 50Hz to 200Hz! Digital technology also allows for finding exact pitches so easily compared to the Inton or other units.

The pitch and volume settings can ALL be set manually. If desired, the "internal melody" (like intonation, or variability of pitch) can be set via a computer interface program. The program is VERY easy to use. Currently, the "Communication Kit" to interface the Servox unit with the computer is sold separately. Per Germany's suggestion, it is recommended for Professionals only (the SLPs). That follows Germany's model of how to offer the unit and computer "Communication Kit" (cable to connect the Servox digital to the computer, a separate titanium housing to interface the Servox with the personal computer (P.C.), and the CD Disk).

You will be able to talk on the phone with the Servox Digital, just like you might do with an Inton. It is the same size and similar coloring to the Servox Inton. The top cap, the battery cap and the panel behind the 2 operating buttons are a beautiful steel-blue type color! Very classy looking.

As far as background noise: Background noise is diminished in any electrolarynx by trying not to keep the sound on during pauses in speech. Its also reduced by appropriate "off" timing at the end of phrases, sents., pauses. Any electrolarynx has an artificial type sound to it as it is a prosthetic voice system. However, there is no more "click" heard as one depresses the operating buttons. In addition, the computer program for the Servox Digital allows for enhanced prosody (or "melody of speech"). The SERVOX digital is the first step in further improvement of the sound one can obtain from an electrolarynx. Servox Germany has not rested with the intro. of their Digital. They are still developing even more exciting changes with their digital technology!

I just demonstrated the Servox Digital to a laryngectomee meeting in North Dakota. We were in a hotel conference room with about 50 people. I turned up my digital's volume appropriately. I asked a few people afterwards if they could hear/understand me OK, and they said yes. It wouldn't hurt to have a backup voice amplifier with you when speaking to a large group. It is helpful for any speaker.

The Servox digital will be available shortly. Siemens sells to health care professionals and health care locations. I would be happy to refer you to one of our distributors in your location. Please provide me with your address so I may do so. I will mail a brochure to you also. It is Germany's first print of the brochure, so please excuse the few spelling errors for now! Siemens suggested some editing to Germany to improve the spelling! :)

Thank you for your interest in the Servox digital! It is a very exciting breakthrough in technology for the electrolarynx!

Best Regards,
Mary Pat Henke
Servox Inton and Digital Sales & Service Dept.
Siemens Professional Products
16 East Piper Lane, Ste. 125
Prospect Heights, IL 60070-1799
Email: mhenke@siemens-hearing.com or dfoley@siemens-hearing.com
Telephone: (800) 333-9083 ext. 3566
Fax: (847) 808-1299


The following Servox Digital FAQ's provided courtesy of SERVOX AG:

1. What is the new Servox called?

The new model is called "Servox digital".

2. What should I know about using the new Servox digital?

There are still two tone buttons and one volume control. The volume control on Servox Inton has been changed from an aluminium wheel into a transparent rocker switch. The new model offers more options to vary your individual sound.

3. What is the main difference between the new Servox digital and the old Servox Inton?

The Servox Inton was an analogue device as are most other speech aids. The tone and volume settings have been adjusted via potentiometers and analogue resistors. The new Servox digital is processor controlled. This means that all the settings are adjusted digitally. This offers a far greater range of possible adjustments. With the new Servox digital you can change the frequency on each individual button as you wish. Adjustments are also easier to make and more precise (see also point 8. and 9.)

4. Is it the same size as the old model?

Yes, the dimensions of Servox digital remain the same as for the Servox Inton.

5. Are the default tones the same as on the Servox Inton?

Yes, the upper button is 85 Hz and the lower button is 91 Hz. These frequencies can be changed easily by the user.

6. Why does a CD-ROM come with the new Servox digital?

The CD contains a multimedia explanation of the new digital features and a software. This software allows you to tune the device via a data cable in a dialogue situation, e.g. by a certified speech-language pathologist. The adjustment via a PC and cable has the benefit of tuning the device while the user speaks. However the device can be tuned without software as described in point 8.
The data cable is an optional accessory.

7. Do I need a PC and cable to adjust the new device?

No, all necessary adjustments can be done without a computer, with just the device itself, as described in point 8.

8. How do I adjust the frequency of the speech aid?

Adjusting the frequency of the new Servox digital is different to the Inton, but it is also easier and more reliable:
To set the buttons A and B, please unscrew the bottom cover and slide off the titanium housing. Screw the bottom cover back on (with battery inserted).
You will now be able to see the electronics on the back of the speech aid. In the upper left corner you will see 2 small switches: the DIP switches.

To set the tone for button A push the switch "1" to the "on" position and the switch "2" to the "off" position. Then press the upper button several times to receive a higher tone. Each time the button is pressed the tone increases by a frequency of 1 Hz. If the tone is too high you can use the lower button to decrease it. If you press a button constantly, the currently-set tone will be maintained. So you can check how this tone sounds.

When you have chosen the frequency that suits you best, you can alter the setting for button B. Please push the switch "1" to the "off" position, the switch "2" to the "on" position. Please proceed now with the same instructions as for button A. Fine tone adjustments can be made by turning the screw cap. After you have finished the adjustments please push both switches to the "off" position. Wait a couple of seconds until the new setting is registered. Then screw the bottom cover off, slide the titanium housing on again and screw on the bottom cover tightly.

9. How do I adjust the volume?

The adjustment of the volume can be done in two ways:

a. Move the rocker switch up or down in order to increase or decrease volume.
Individual button:

b. If you would like to have different volumes on the individual buttons, move the rocker switch while pushing the button you want to adjust. For instance you will be able to program a low volume to one button and a high volume to the other.

10. Is there a difference in sound with the new device compared to the Servox Inton?

No, the sound will severally remain the same. However there might be a slight variation between individual devices (depending, for instance on how old the speech aid is).

11. Will I still be able to get spare parts for my old Servox?

Yes, we will keep spare parts for the old model for approximately the next 5 years.

12. Does the new technology use up more power?

No, on the contrary. Power saving features have actually been built into the new device.

13. The LED in my new Servox digital shows that the battery is low and the speech aid stops working, but this battery still works in my old Servox Inton?

Among the features of the new device is a battery saving function. The Servox digital measures the battery voltage continuously. The energy management system protects the battery from being completely discharged. This function gives your battery a longer life. The Servox Inton did not have this feature, therefore could deep-discharge a battery.

14. Is the Servox digital more complicated than the Servox Inton?

No, we swear!

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