Everybody can hear well in Anne Ziegler’s family. None of her friends have any hearing problems, either. “It’s true. Before I started working for Sonova, I had never interacted much with people affected by hearing loss.” It was the technical challenges that drew the 32-year-old to the job. “I have a background in research – this job lets me apply scientific advances and bring products to maturity. Besides, bio-compatibility and the human/machine interface are key issues with hearing aids. I find these questions particularly fascinating.”
As soon as the talk turns to technology, Anne lights up. She is an engineer, through and through. The mother of two has been working as an embedded software engineer in Sonova’s research department since 2018, focusing on hearing instruments software. Anne is responsible for “firmware” – in other words, for the software and its integration into the hearing aid. She is used to others being perplexed by what she does and has an answer ready: “there is a particular set of software in a hearing aid: this is closely connected to the electrical components and cannot be modified. Because the software is so tightly linked to the hardware, we call it an ‘embedded’ system. Only audiologists can make user-specific modifications.” This software activates sensors and microsystems, a subject Anne also knows a thing or two about. “Think about it this way: when you turn on the hearing aid or when you go from a quiet to a loud environment, control programs are running in the background that enable the device to function,” she continues, patiently translating complex concepts into layman’s terms.