Professional skier Robin Gillon has been climbing the ranks as a professional athlete, despite living with severe hearing loss his entire life.
Gilon has ranked in the top five skiers in the European Cup and the top 50 overall in the World Pro Tour (Association of Freeski Professionals.)
His hearing aid technology have been a big support throughout his journey, and now, a recent upgrade to the Phonak Virto Marvel hearing aids and Roger On has made an even bigger impact in his social and professional life.
We talked to Robin about his technology and plans for the future.
HLM: Did you have an in-the-ear hearing aid before? How is the fit, sound quality, maintenance, etc., different from past hearing aids you’ve had.
Robin: I did have some ITE hearing aid before. However, nothing was as comfortable and modern than my current Phonak Marvel Virto Black!
What I like the most about it is that despite the hearing aid being a bit bigger than some of my other smaller ITE I’ve had, they look so modern and cool that nobody notices that I’m actually wearing hearing aids. Meaning, they think I’ve something like Beats by Dre, but cooler. I’ve literally had people ask my what ear bud model they are. Also, they feel more comfortable, my ears don’t itch as much after wearing them for a long time.
“…they look so modern and cool that nobody notices that I’m actually wearing hearing aids.”
HLM: Have your new hearing aids enhanced your life? If yes, in what sense?
Robin: Yes they have. I have never spent this much time on the phone in my entire life. I love the Bluetooth connection to my phone to listen to music as well. I’ve started skiing with music all the time and I’m loving it.
The sound is much finer than what I’m used to, increasing my life quality on a daily basis. I discovered plenty new sounds that I’ve never heard before. Most likely because the new chip is really performant and the Bluetooth connection to the phone helps me having nice conversations with my peers on the phone.
HLM: What do you like about the Virto M? is the material and its durability important for your lifestyle? Was the color of the material important (coolness)?
Robin: I like the black color, it is very modern. I could maybe do a nice white, but I think black definitely makes it look really cool. People do not look at your ears all weird, thinking you have some weird skin color hearing aids like (traditionally) old people do. I haven’t received any of that weird look anymore! It’s been a huge change and I’m definitely a huge fan.
HLM: What has been your friend’s/family’s/stranger’s response to your hearing aids?
Robin: My best friend told me that I do not look like I have a disability anymore. He was very upfront and said that it looks MUCH better this way. He said it makes me look normal and that they fit in with the modern technological trend. Everyone around me that knows I’m hard of hearing agrees on that. They said the weird skin color was not cool at all and made it look like there was something wrong with me. This is the new look and I do not want it any other way anymore.
HLM: What advice would you give to others considering an ITE hearing aid? Would you recommend the Virto M?
Robin: I’d solely recommend the Marvel Virto M now. I swear on this product, this is it. It looks really cool, the sounds and all its technological advantages are so up to date. The only thing I wish that it had is a rechargeable battery. I know Phonak is working hard on this to make it happen in a ITE hearing aid, so I’m being patient. Once it will be rechargeable, I’ll finally be able to say that I have the ultimate hearing aid. Oh, and maybe adding some bass for that tiny little boost when we listen to music.
HLM: You are using a Roger On in combination to your Virto M. In what situations has it helped you?
Robin: I give it to my teacher at universities, to my coach on top of the hill and lately since Covid hit, everyone wears masks I never leave home without my Roger On to hear conversations. The hearing aid connects right away and it works super well.
Read more: Phonak Field Study: The masking dilemma.
HLM: What are you able to do now that you were not able to do before you had your Roger On and Virto M?
Robin: Now I’m constantly listening to music, watching movies and calling friends without hesitation. I can simply connect my Bluetooth from my phone or computer straight to my hearing aids.
HLM: How do you pursue every day with the energy to not let your hearing loss stop you?
Robin: I work out, I’m trying to stay positive (easier said than done) and always surround myself with people that I benefit from. Anyone that brings me down can go around the block, I don’t need to see or deal with them, ever. I do have to sleep a little more than hearing people, I get very tired from all the sounds and processing I have to do throughout the day but it has improved dramatically so I’m not as tired as I used to. We are going to the right direction.
HLM: What is your hope for hearing technology in the future?
Robin: I hope for efficient rechargeable batteries and music quality sound that is just as good as some of the finest earbuds in the world – with bass, trebles, etc. I think it is already going through that direction, so I’m blessed and thankful to have some of the best hearing technology with Phonak.