CARL is just over four years old, and in those four years, we have learned a lot about the problems CARL solves, where CARL is used, where CARL is helpful, and most importantly, how we can continue to evolve and improve CARL. Based on all these learnings, we have incorporated all these suggestions, requests, and feedback into a whole new generation of CARL, that will modernize the product and continue to help education and research across the whole of hearing healthcare.
In this post, we will cover everything new in this new generation of CARL
- New Audio CARL Unit
- CARL Platform Updates
- New Included Extended Warranty
- New CARL Earmold Network
- New Release/Update Schedule with Published Catalog
- New Pricing
- Compatibility with Old CARL Units
New Audio CARL Unit
The All-New Audio CARL Unit is now available. This new Audio CARL unit has been the top request from the CARL Community for over three years and looks to add microphone and sound functionality to the CARL platform. In early-stage research and development since 2019, Audio CARL incorporates high-accuracy MEMS microphone technology into the CARL eardrum to allow for a realistic and seamless ear canal with sound recording available at the end of the full-canal without any coupler required.
Audio CARL has three universal functions upon release: (1) Audiometry Education, (2) Raw Eardrum-Level Sound Recording, and (3) Sound Pressure Level Detection and Analysis. Unlike other manikins on the market, CARL looks to bring ease-of-use and accessibility to education and research in hearing healthcare, at a far more accessible and affordable cost.
For in-depth videos about Audio CARL, check out the videos below;
For more details and specifications, check out the Audio CARL product page.
New CARL Platform Updates
With the release of Audio CARL, the entire Adult CARL product line has been updated to reflect feedback received over the years. Below is a breakdown of all the changes made to the CARL platform – big and small.
- New Simple-Swap Ear System
CARL’s new head allows for easy swapping of the ear anatomies using a new ‘click’ mechanism. There are no additional hardware/tools required to swap the CARL ears in and out (especially no hex key which ends up being lost anyways!!). By an easy ‘click-into-place’ motion (seen below), you can have a seamless transition to change anatomies on CARL, change types of ears, and allow for the simulation of new patients in an easy and workflow-efficient way! All of these updates and changes were verified and validated to not reduce the rigidity and stableness of the CARL ear inside of CARL’s head.
- New Default Ear Selections and Options
CARL ears are crucial to the overall system, and we’ve updated each CARL unit with new default ear models. With a recent validation of CARL ears conducted and published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Audiology, we are confident these new changes will provide increased value for users of CARL.
CARL now has two ear configurations available per anatomy: (1) Realistic Ears, and (2) Durable Ears. These different ear options are guided for different use cases, and with the new Simple-Swap Ear System, can be swapped out instantly with no hardware required. These two ear configurations are possible for all available anatomies (Large, Small, Bendy).
The new Realistic Ears are the same as the existing CARL ears that came with the original units. These ears are silicone-based and have been validated for use in real-ear measurement and for a realistic otoscopic view inside the ear canal. The material has also been fine-tuned to provide the closest simulation of an ear in terms of flexibility and texture currently available on the market. All Realistic Ears are shipped in pairs, and each pair has one side in a light colour, one side in a dark colour.
The new Durable Ears are the new replacement for the previously available EMI ears. These new Durable Ears are slightly less realistic in terms of the in-canal otoscopic view and the flexibility of the ear as they are a tougher material and are completely translucent. These new Durable Ears hold up far better to heavy use, hold up better with potentially damaging tools such as curettes, and are the preferred choice for earmold impressions as they are less likely to bond to the earmold impression material.
All new CARLs include both a Realistic Ear Set as well as a Durable Ear Set in the Large Anatomy. See below for a full comparison of the ears, as well when to use which ear depending on your use case.
- New Ear Kits Available
If you are looking to update your CARL with new ears, the new Ear Kits may be the best option. Ear Kits package the two additional anatomies not included by default with CARL (the Small and Bendy CARL anatomy) in one package that is cheaper than buying ears individually. Whether you’re looking to update your current CARL or add additional ears to a new CARL purchase, check out www.aheadsimulations.com/products/earkits.
- More Accurate Head Size
CARL has always been a little smarter than the rest, but that meant his head size had to be bigger than average to accommodate! The size of the new CARL platform is now smaller and measured to be average and standardized across 10 key measurement dimensions of the human head, as per published ISO standards. This will ensure your new CARL will be as beneficial as possible for new use cases such as over-the-head headphones, audiometry, and more.
- New Weight and Sturdiness
CARL has been redesigned to offer a more stable and secure experience, and to reduce previous ‘tippiness’ of the unit. CARL is now slightly heavier, and his center of gravity is more ‘centered’, meaning it will be less prone to unwanted side-to-side movement, as well as front-to-back. This new sturdiness is still in conjunction with the CARL suction cups, which allows the CARL unit to be secured to a table in a simple way.
- New Impact Resistant Construction and Cap-Opening System
Even though the new weight and sturdiness will allow for more stability during use, if the CARL unit still manages to take a tumble off a table or chair, the new construction will hold up even better to accidental falls. Previous CARL versions were made from a production-grade 3D printer, but even these parts are not as solid as molded parts. CARL is now produced to have a solid exterior to provide confidence to using CARL in new scenarios, on-the-go, and providing more confidence that a tumble off a table won’t ruin the CARL for everyone!
Because of this new construction, CARL also no longer has attachment holes on the outside of his face. All attachment mechanisms are enclosed in the head to ensure a more uniform look.
These new changes also provide proper sound isolation for use of Audio CARL. Testing has been completed regarding the head-transfer-function and attenuation characteristics of the head with this new construction and were verified to be adequate for both existing use cases of CARL, and new use cases of the Audio CARL. Official findings will be published in the months ahead but be sure to reach out to AHead if you have any immediate questions.
Finally, a new hinge and cap-opening system is made to be more rugged and easier to use with no risk of jamming your fingers. Previous versions of CARL included a spare hinge as upon a fall, all force was to be directed to the hinge (which would then break). With this new construction and cap hinging system, accidental falls are less likely to result in the breaking of any piece of the CARL. As an added benefit, the CARL cap can be positioned at any angle while rotating around the cap (in the same way you can position a laptop screen at any angle when opening it - see below).
(To learn more about the new CARL construction, be sure to ask about our infamous “CARL Balcony Drop” product testing if you’re talking to a representative at AHead!!)
- Updated Camera CARL Functionality and Included Features
The New Camera CARL has been adapted to simplify the method of estimating device positioning within the ear canal. The previous Camera CARL software has been replaced with a universal system that is compatible with any native camera app you wish to connect your CARL to. CARL’s new Camera CARL ear also has a 5mm scale printed on the side of the ear canal which gives you a way to estimate where objects are in comparison to CARL’s eardrum.
The snap-in locking mechanism that allows for the in-head camera to view the left or right ear canal has also been improved for higher usability and more consistent camera placement. Finally, Camera CARL connectors have been updated to USB-C instead of USB-A for future compatibility and futureproofing. A USB-C cable is included in every Camera CARL package.
- CARL Mounting System Available for Purchase
Upon request from the CARL Community, we have begun to sell a CARL mounting system that can be added to any CARL product. This mounting system can be attached to the VESA mounting bracket on the bottom of the CARL unit and attached to any desk. Once secured, the mount will provide the ability to position CARL anywhere in 3D space (as you would adjust the height of a patient in an adjustable chair), facilitate the leaning of CARL’s head from side to side, or the ability to swivel CARL out of your workstation when not in use.
If purchased alongside a CARL, the mount will be pre-calibrated to the weight and size of the CARL unit. If purchased separately from your CARL, please be aware you may need to adjust the weight calibration of the mount according to what generation your CARL unit is. Please contact AHead for any questions about this.
New Included Extended Warranty
With all new CARL units, a new extended warranty program is included free-of-charge. For every new CARL head unit, there is a two-year extended warranty coverage on any issues with the head that interfere with its use, where a new head unit can be replaced free of charge. For the CARL ears, a six-month extended warranty program is included where any issues interfering with the function of the ears will be replaced. Please see our Terms and Conditions for all details on this new warranty.
New CARL Earmold Network
Earmolds and custom devices are something that are quite commonly used with CARL! To simplify the process to get you these devices, we have set up a “CARL Earmold Network” with most major suppliers and manufacturers in North America. Every member of this new CARL Earmold Network already has all of CARL’s ears and anatomies on file and ready to order. Simply follow the instructions from the CARL Earmold Network to contact your favorite supplier, provide the instructions shown, and you can directly order earmolds or customs without needing to do a single earmold impression or scan of your CARL’s ears! See our Earmold Network pdf for full details.
New Release/Update Schedule with Published Catalog
CARL has been continually changing and improving over the years for the better, however, this has caused considerable confusion among users and potential buyers for what CARL version with what updates they will be receiving. With this new platform update as of July 18th 2022, all CARL units and CARL options will remain uniform, with only two major update releases a year (not including minor bug fixes).
To cement these options, we are releasing our Catalog of core CARL products that are available for purchase for 2022 and 2023. New changes, updates, or new products will only come twice a year, estimated in months April and October.
Please download a copy of our New CARL Catalog.
Pricing of the CARL units have been adjusted with this new platform update. While prices have increased on the majority of items, we strive to continue delivering more value per package for each product, with new updates such as more ear options included with every CARL. All pricing can be found on our website, or in our catalog. Please be aware, previous quotes that were provided at previous prices are only valid for 60 days from the date of quotation.
Compatibility of Older CARL Units
Although this is a new start for the new generation of CARL units, we will still continue to help support everyone in the CARL community who has an existing CARL. While we will suggest taking advantage of the trade-in program while it is in effect (until December 31, 2022), here are the following ways in which we are supporting.
- All product support, troubleshooting, and implementation resources are available to all CARL Users, regardless of the unit or version you have.
- All new ears are not compatible with older generation CARLs by default, HOWEVER, if you notify firstname.lastname@example.org or your AHead representative upon purchase of new ears that you are looking to use the ears for your older generation CARL, they will be configured accordingly in your order. All previous anatomies are identical to the current anatomies.
- CARL Mounting System is compatible with any CARL unit.
- Camera CARL previous software tracking system has been discontinued. You are still able to access and use this software until May 2023. After May 2023, you can still access the Camera CARL feed through any native camera app, by using the Camera inside of CARL as a ‘webcam’.
With all these new updates and initiatives, we are working to make the CARL platform the center for standardized research and education in hearing healthcare. From hands-on learning sessions to new device development, to helping patients with their hearing aids, CARL can do it all.
For AHead, expect to see us around much more in the months and years to come. These first few years with CARL have been amazing to see the reception of the unit, and now that we have a strong base and a clear utility for our solutions, we will be at even more conferences, events, webinars, and much much more!
All CARL products are available to be shipped worldwide, and orders can be placed directly through our online store (www.aheadsimulations.com), or by contacting email@example.com to put together a custom package.