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New digital classroom sound system

FRONTROW PRO DIGITAL improves classroom communication while saving energyPETALUMA, Calif. – May 25, 2007 – FRONTROW introduces the FRONTROW PRO DIGITAL — a classroom sound system the company believes will simplify daily use for teachers and decrease troubleshooting calls for technology staff. As the world‘s first such product to use digital signal processing and digital command and control, PRO DIGITAL invisibly handles details that could be distracting or impossible for school staff to manage, such as suppressing feedback and optimizing power usage. Also thanks to the digital platform, teachers need touch only one button all year — a unique advantage in this category of technology meant to improve communication in the classroom.

FRONTROW PRO DIGITAL is a sound system that clarifies and evenly distributes the teacher‘s voice throughout the classroom — allowing students to more easily understand teachers regardless of where they‘re seated. A teacher using PRO DIGITAL wears a wireless microphone, and his or her voice is broadcast through the PRO DIGITAL receiver and speakers. Key research studies have shown the technology supports instructional quality through improvements in student attention, comprehension, behavior, and test scores. In addition, teachers experience significantly fewer episodes of laryngitis or other voice-related illnesses because FRONTROW PRO DIGITAL lets them teach while speaking at a normal voice level.

“An ideal sound system supports instructional quality without placing a big management burden on the school,” says product manager Tom Flaherty, whose team developed the FRONTROW PRO DIGITAL. “That‘s why we pared the teacher‘s responsibility down to just touching one button. What‘s easier for teachers is ultimately easier for the tech department.” Because of its intelligent power management, teachers can now turn the whole system on or off simply by turning the microphone on or off. The receiver automatically goes to “sleep” whenever the teacher turns off the microphone, and “wakes up” when the teacher turns the mic back on.

PRO DIGITAL‘s convenience and performance is built on the ADAPTO® platform, a powerful combination of the Texas Instruments VC5502 processor, microcontrollers, and unique algorithms developed by FRONTROW engineers.

One of the functions of the ADAPTO platform is to monitor sound quality 500 times per second and suppress feedback before it starts. “In a classroom environment, it‘s common for teachers to walk near a speaker and experience the disruptive howl of feedback,” says Flaherty. “ADAPTO helps us maintain the calm, clear, and consistent teaching style schools want by putting an end to that kind of harsh interruption.” When ADAPTO senses feedback beginning to form, it immediately adapts to the teacher‘s actions by rapidly applying a series of digital notch filters that suppress the feedback spike. “The adaptation happens in a tiny fraction of a second,” says Flaherty, “so teachers just go on teaching without ever knowing they were at risk of a feedback event. That‘s exactly the kind of seamless, carefree teaching we want to support.”

Because it‘s far less sensitive to feedback problems than analog products, Flaherty says installers benefit too: They‘re free to place speakers where they‘ll perform best, and do it more quickly.

Another important innovation offered by FRONTROW PRO DIGITAL is its compliance with the US Government‘s ENERGY STAR® guidelines for energy efficiency. As a result the PRO DIGITAL uses less than half the energy of similar analog products. “It‘s now common for larger school districts to install FRONTROW in a thousand or more classrooms. These districts can save tens of thousands of dollars in energy costs over the life of the product,” says Flaherty.

The base price of a FRONTROW PRO DIGITAL package is US$1350 per classroom. A typical system includes a wireless microphone for the teacher, a receiver unit, and ceiling or wall speakers. A pass-around microphone for student participation is also available.

About FRONTROW

Headquartered in Petaluma, California, FRONTROW is a division of Phonic Ear — whose wireless technology has helped build more engaging learning environments since the mid-1960s. Beginning in 2005, the FRONTROW division has focused on using classroom amplification (sound field) technology to improve students‘ listening success — resulting in better behavior, comprehension, test scores, and teacher vocal health. It is the only ISO-registered and FDA-cleared supplier of classroom amplification technology in the market. In addition, Educational Underwriters has vetted the research behind FRONTROW products. For more information, please visit www.gofrontrow.com.

FrontRow is part of the William Demant Group, founded in 1904 as a hearing aid company. Listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange (CSE3247), William Demant comprises a group of international companies that develop, manufacture, and sell innovative and highly advanced technological solutions in the hearing healthcare and educational field. Through 45 Group companies located in over 20 countries, consolidated group sales exceed US$1 billion.

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Stay up to date on the latest technology news. Select press representatives post company news several times a day. Check back often to get the latest news on product releases, mergers and acquisitions, and product applications. To be included in this virtual press conference, please contact The Wire.

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