NEPTUNE by Advanced Bionics - Best New Product or Service

IBA12 Gold Stevie WinnerCompany: Advanced Bionics
Company Description: Advanced Bionics is a global leader in developing the most advanced cochlear implant systems in the world. Acquired by Sonova Holding AG and working with Phonak since 2009, AB develops cutting-edge cochlear implant technology that restores hearing to those with severe-to-profound hearing loss. With operations in over 50 countries, AB has a track record for developing high-performing products.
Nomination Category: Products & Product Management Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Best New Product or Service of the Year - Health & Pharmaceuticals - Product

Nomination Title: NEPTUNE by Advanced Bionics

Tell the story about this nominated product or service (up to 500 words). Describe its functions, features, benefits, and sales results to date:

As the industry leader in technology innovation, Advanced Bionics set out to develop a revolutionary product never before seen in the market—a waterproof product that delivers sound to those with significant hearing loss. The product needed to be swimmable for repeated submersions daily—not just submersible one time only, like the product offered by the competition.

As a company truly focused on putting patients first, AB wanted to give families the ability to benefit from the important language and listening development that takes place during bath time. For safety and socialization, AB wanted to help families hear and communicate at the pool. AB’s product also needed to meet AB’s industry-leading quality and reliability standards. This lead to AB’s newest innovation—the Neptune™ sound processor.

In 2011, AB introduced Neptune to the U.S. and Canadian markets. “With Neptune, we are the first in the world to develop a waterproof, swimmable sound processor for cochlear implant recipients,” says Gerhard Roehrlein, PhD, who is CEO and CTO at Advanced Bionics, LLC. “We also introduced the industry’s first freestyle™ design, offering a new wearing category that allows recipients to wear it their way.” Neptune received an ingress protection rating of “IP68,” meaning that it is waterproof and dustproof.

The challenge for AB was how to make an electronic device waterproof and durable for continuous everyday use. In order to overcome one of these challenges, the product development team worked to produce removable controls for a waterproof and childproof configuration. AB’s proprietary waterproof technology includes hermetic seals and specially designed membranes that prevent moisture ingress.

In addition to making the sound processor waterproof and durable, AB wanted to create a small, attractive and lightweight product. Neptune’s stylish metallic band and fashion-forward color set gives it a modern, sleek design. Many hours went into the industrial design of the product to achieve its consumer-electronic aesthetic.

Neptune also features the industry’s first freestyle wearing design, allowing users to wear it how they like it. Neptune gives users the freedom to choose their wearing style—in the hair, on the arm, under the collar, in the pocket—without compromising performance.

Further, AB wanted to deliver a product with the convenience of being powered by a single off-the-shelf disposable or rechargeable AAA battery. This allows users to stop by any gas station or convenience store to replace batteries while traveling.

Since its development, Neptune has won several product design awards: I.D. International Design Magazine Award – 2011 Annual Design Review, the 2011 Northwest Design Invitational Award, and the 2012 red dot design award. Neptune is also a finalist for the most innovative product in MDEA 2012 (Medical Design Excellence Awards).

Provide a brief (up to 100 words) biography about the leader(s) of the team that developed the nominated product or service:

Gerhard Roehrlein, PhD, serves as CEO and CTO of Advanced Bionics. He joined AB as Chief Technical Officer in 2010 after nearly 25 years with Seimens, a global pioneer in electronics and electrical engineering. Roehrlein leads research, development, and technology initiatives. He also implements long-term business strategies that direct the organization’s overall growth.

At Siemens, Roehrlein worked primarily within the company’s healthcare sector. His responsibilities included leadership roles in Electronics & Development Computed Tomography and Audiology Business Units. Roehrlein holds a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a doctoral degree in Ultrasound Computed Tomography from University Erlangen, Germany.