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Introducing the BAERCOM™

Veterinary

Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER)

Evaluation System

Suzanne Nevada, SilverAurora Kennels, Wasilla, Alaska, with her Australian Cattle Dog, Teddy

Why should I even care?

BAERCOM System List Price: $3,150


The BAERCOM: History and Vision

BAER testing is the standard method used to check for hearing defects in dogs. Many breeds of dogs are susceptible to genetic causes of deafness; BAER testing is used to exclude deaf dogs from the breeding pool. Canine BAER testing is generally performed on young puppies, and is always recommended for susceptible breeds before first sale or breeding.

Until recently there were very few locations available for BAER testing, typically just the few universities with veterinary schools such as the University of California, Davis, University of Colorado, and LSU among others. This made it inconvenient, as well as expensive, for breeders of susceptible breeds to have puppies tested.

Before the BAERCOM, the only equipment available for canine BAER testing was that developed for human use. Human-approved equipment meets very high standards and includes capabilities not required for screening puppies for deafness. And Human-approved equipment costs many thousands of dollars, which is prohibitive for the general veterinary practitioner.

UFI has developed a low cost device, the BAERCOM™, that is aimed at inexpensive, portable puppy screening. The BAERCOM includes only the minimum functionality required to test for hearing ability and does not include the more analytic functions and capabilites of the more expensive audiological testing machines.

Our vision for the BAERCOM is a simple, affordable alternative to regional BAER test centers for basic animal auditory testing. The BAERCOM was not and is not meant to replace the rigorous BAER testing capabilities of the regional centers. Instead, the BAERCOM permits an individual owner, breeder or small veterinary practice (our main customer base) to screen for hearing abnormalities. A "positive BAER test", meaning one that shows no hearing impairment, can be clearly evident with the BAERCOM. Should issues with hearing be surfaced by the BAERCOM, these animals can be re-tested at a later date, referred to a regional test center, or both.

The expensive audiological testers at the regional centers usually provide multiple click-stimulus frequency options and a very wide amplitude range. Instruments at the centers often offer "bone stimulation" capabilities, among other things. By contrast, the BAERCOM supplies just one stimulus frequency option, a simple wideband click with an adjustable amplitude (SPL) up to about 80 dB. Also, for simplicity's sake, the gain and pass band of the BAERCOM EEG signal conditioner are fixed.

The magnitude of the BAER response from your subject depends on how many "scans" (sets of 100 data collection passes) you allow the BAERCOM to make before you stop the test. For most small animals, 20 scans (2000 data collection passes) are usually sufficient to distinguish a positive BAER outcome.

The BAERCOM unit is packaged in a durable ABS plastic case just 1.4" x 5" x 7" in size. It features an easy-to-read LCD display, and storage capacity for up to 23 separate BAER tests (31 with our latest firmware!) in internal memory. A 9V alkaline battery provides power, making the BAERCOM truly portable. A standard USB connection simplifies interfacing to a PC computer for later data retrieval and printing.

These features permit animal hearing evaluation and research in locations where more expensive testers would be impractical or even impossible. A few of our outback customers in Australia, hundreds of miles from testing centers, offer an extreme example of situations where the BAERCOM is invaluable.

Simple, affordable animal hearing screening -- that's the BAERCOM!

And, by the way... Besides veterinary practices, the Baercom has been used on other 'small animals', even horses. In addition, the generous amount of internal Baer trace storage makes the Baercom a perfect fit for true 'field research'! Try lugging one of the bigger testers down miles of dirt road on the back of a motorcycle!


The BAERCOM instrument

The BAERCOM is a portable, stand-alone, 9V-battery-powered BAER hearing evaluation device for veterinary research and testing on dogs, cats, and other small- and medium-size animals.

The BAERCOM synchronizes click generation and EEG data collection to sample 11 milliseconds of EEG data, starting with the click onset. The resulting summed BAER response waveform is rapidly compiled and displayed on the graphics LCD.

The BAERCOM can be operated as a "stand alone" BAER evaluation tool, with the resulting BAER response clearly displayed on the graphics LCD. Up to 31 BAER response traces (up to 23 with earlier firmware) can be saved in memory inside the BAERCOM. Any of these recorded BAER traces can be displayed on the built-in LCD. They can also be downloaded to a PC when convenient.


PC software for the BAERCOM (included)

Each BAERCOM comes with PC software that can download the BAER traces from the BAERCOM and save the data to your computer. The BAER response for both ears can be combined into a simple, easy to use report form (shown above). The report can be annotated as desired, then saved and printed as required. BAER traces can also be copied to the PC Clipboard for use by other applications.

YES we obviously used the sample data twice in the picture above, and NO you shouldn't do that! We did that just to show that TWO different traces for EACH ear can now be included in the report! (Software version 2.2!) Many records associations now REQUIRE TWO Baer Collection Results (Traces) for EACH Ear, and this is just a good idea.

Still, the BAER traces shown above were collected with the BAERCOM from a lightly sedated, one-year-old male Dalmatian with unilateral hearing loss in the left ear. The collection of this BAER data for both ears took less than 5 minutes. Most pups, including the one in the picture at the top of the page, do not require sedation at all.


BAERCOM specifications


Important Notes

Legal Disclaimer: If you are an individual interested in purchasing the BAERCOM™, please check with your local veterinarian to see if there are any legal issues involved. In many locations, you can probably do anything you wish with your own animals, including BAERCOM testing. However, if you charge a fee for BAER testing of another person's animals, you are likely required by local law to be a licensed veterinarian -- a point on which we fully agree. We urge complete and full compliance with any local laws relating to BAER Hearing Testing in your area !!!

BAERCOM User Due Diligence: When used correctly, the BAERCOM can easily show the EEG/BAER tracing for normal hearing on the selected Ear of an animal. Like most EEG/BAER instruments, the successful use of the BAERCOM requires both a substantial familiarity with the meaning and appearance of the EEG BAER signal, as well as a methodical "attention to detail" approach to instrumenting and testing an animal. Thus a certain amount of "due diligence" is required of the BAERCOM user in order to successfully use the BAERCOM. Failure to master either or both of these two key areas can result in poor data that is incorrectly interpreted, but this should not be taken as a fault of the BAERCOM system.

Radiated Noise Caution: We recommend that you disconnect the BAERCOM from the PC computer (by disconnecting the USB cable from the USB connector on the top panel of the BAERCOM) before actually collecting BAER data from an animal. The gain of the EEG signal conditioner in the BAERCOM is very high, and power supplies (especially external supplies used with Notebook computers) can introduce a substantial amount of electrical interference, that can easily distort or mask the actual EEG/BAER signal that the BAERCOM is designed to measure.

UFI Interpretation Requests: UFI continues to work with a number of licensed DVM's, in both the development and support of the BAERCOM. However, UFI does not have a licensed DVM on staff. As a result, we are not able to interpret your BAER data for you. We may, at times, ask you to send us some of your BAER data, but this is only for evaluation regarding connection and signal quality issues.

Directional Consistency: The Baercom instructions repeatedly use the designations right and left. You can understand these directions as viewed from either the front of the animal (your Right and Left), or the back of the animal, the animal's Right and Left, which is preferred. Whatever approach you choose, use it consistently.


Do The Math department

We don't want any of our customers to make thousands just by rubber-stamping raging noise. That is why the Baercom instructions are BIG and SCARY! And you can rubber-stamp noise with ANY Baer tester. We assume you will conscientiously learn the required skills and carefully test (and retest) each animal. That said, if you charge say $60 per animal, the Baercom system pays for itself after maybe 50 animals. The rest is yours. And if you add Dog Shows into the equation...


30 Day Free Trial Evaluation Program!

Click over the heading above to find out more! (USA only)


New Educational Discounts Available! (USA Only)

(We apologize, but we cannot offer the 30 day free trial program for purchases including either of these two academic discounts.)


Baercom International Distributors

UFI has a number of international distributors for the Baercom system and accessories. Working with someone closer to home is always easier! Feel free to contact us to see if we have a distributor for your country!


v2.2 BAERCOM Instruction Manual

The link in the heading directly above opens the version 2.2 Instruction Manual for the BAERCOM system. This latest version of the Baercom instructions includes both the vD.2 Firmware as well as the powerful new additions included in the version 2.2 Baercom-PC software -- Trace Mirroring, Trace Browsing and Trace Stacking.

For your convenience, we have included the link to the older v2.1 Baercom system instructions here.





For BAERCOM™ Owners

If you already own a Baercom, keep checking back here for the latest information: recent improvements, upgrade offers, etc. And the link to the latest instructions is directly above!


Recent Updates to the Baercom system!

--We have enhanced the Baercom-PC Software (two traces per window and more!)

--We have updated the Baercom Firmware! We added single action full erase and 8 more Baer trace storage pages! See more below.


New vD.2 Baercom Firmware Now Available!

We are working to make the Baercom even easier to use. Our recent work has resulted in firmware version D.2 which is now shipping in all new Baercoms. This new firmware includes the following enhancements:

Official Release Notes for this new firmware can be found here.


Baercom UPGRADE Options

We are also able to offer the following upgrade options for Baercoms with earlier Firmware. If you have the D.1 firmware, for $250 we will upgrade your firmware to D.2, and perform a basic check of your Baercom. Earlier Baercoms use a different processor, but we will offer you a $1,000 trade-in credit for your older Baercom against the purchase of a new Baercom at the current list price.


BAERCOM Simulator

For several years, UFI paid a local veterinarian to perform a final system check on each newly assembled BAERCOM. A puppy with hearing known to be normal served as the BAERCOM test subject. Then about four years ago, UFI Engineering devised a compact electronic stand-in for the puppy, resulting in faster and less costly quality control. We've just made this BAERCOM Simulator even more user-friendly and reliable, and are now happy to offer it as a standard product to BAERCOM owners worldwide.

How does it work? Just insert your BAERCOM earpiece into the panel-mounted microphone on the simulator to create an acoustic link. Then clip the BAERCOM input assembly to the simulator's snap terminals rather than to the electrodes you'd normally use with a live subject. Power up both units; each burst of BAERCOM stimulus triggers a simulated waveform like the one made by the auditory nerve in a real animal with normal hearing.

With the BAERCOM Simulator, Baercom users can now:

And, you can save money by purchaseing the Baercom and Simulator together!


v 2.2 Electronic Download Now Available!

Maybe a customer's dog chewed up your Baercom-PC software CD after your nephew was done playing frisbee with it... Or, maybe you were never able to find your CD after the last chaotic move... (Did you look in the back of the printed instructions?) Or, maybe your old computer crashed, and the new one doesn't even have a CD drive, and you have testing to do this weekend... Or maybe you read about the latest software, and you are excited about the possibilities... Or, maybe... all of the above!

We are pleased to be able to offer the Baercom-PC software CD contents for the latest version of the Baercom-PC software as an electronic download! (This is now v2.2!) The link at the top of this section takes you to the directions for performing the Electronic Download; READ THESE FIRST!. Note that you will need to call UFI with your Baercom serial number handy. We will verify your Baercom, then give you the FTP access username and password.

The instructions for the earlier v2.1 software download are included here just in case.


Baercom-RF -- Do you need this?

Imagine a large room filled with three or four litters of puppies laying not so quietly around their mothers in temp cages spread out on the tile floor. And you need to do a Baer test and report on all of them... And even more litters are on their way... A veterinarian's nightmare?

We are working on a new version of our Baercom targeting this exact scenario, the Baercom-RF! We are taking our standard Baercom, and adding a built-in short haul RF Link to a receiver box that sits next to your computer and connects via USB. You would not need to worry about disconnecting or reconnecting ANYTHING, and you could move your Baercom around from animal to animal. The RF link will take care of the rest, and keep you connected! In fact, this new Baercom may turn out to be a hardware only modification, requiring no changes to the current Baercom software.

We are guessing the Baercom-RF will cost maybe $900 more than our current Baercom. And, if you have a vD.1 or vD.2 Baercom, we can probably open it up and upgrade it, adding the RF Link and testing, for maybe $1400. Will it be worth it? Ask the Vet testing all those puppies!

Let us know if you are interested in this new Baercom!


New USB Tech Article!

Ok, so your Baercom-PC Software starts and runs fine, but it can't find your Baercom. Maybe everything was working fine, then just quit. Or maybe you upgraded operating systems, or this is on a totally new computer. This detailed Tech Article (link in title above) discusses Everything USB as far as UFI USB devices is concerned, and that includes the Baercom! This tome should help you get your Baercom and your computer friends again! But, of course get in touch with us if you can't seem to get things fixed.


Software/Firmware History

Baercom owners can check here (link above) to see how their Baercom fits in the overall development of the Baercom system. Maybe it is upgrade time!




picture of chair, table in corner

Quiet Corner...

Ok, so go get a soda or a cup of coffee, then come back, have a seat and just relax a few minutes. We need to talk.

Whether you already have a Baercom, or are thinking about buying a Baercom, or buying any BAER tester, I need to warn you. The signal you want to actually measure, the Baer signal, it is very small, on the order of microvolts. A microvolt is one millionth of a volt! And the electrical noise raging all around us is far stronger. Given the chance, that raging noise is what you will see, maybe all you will see. Your only hope is to get that needle, all 3 needles, reliably down into the wet, live tissue underneath the animal's skin. That is the only way to minimize the noise, no matter whose Baer system you are using. And the success or failure, the accuracy of any Baer test, regardless of the equipment, depends almost entirely on that direct connection to live tissue. Electrode placement is important, but earphone, switches, knobs and dials; most of the rest is just setup. A good connection to live tissue is what allows the EEG signal conditioner and repetitive summing algorithm to work together to do their job. I don't mean to scare you off with this dose of reality! You need to know that many veterinarians use the Baercom and other Baer testers at dog shows, performing Baer testing on multiple litters of puppies in a single afternoon (certainly not for free)! Yes you CAN become very profficient at quickly getting those three needles right where they belong. But it often takes a lot of practice. You should be prepared to invest plenty of time in that before charging a dime, no matter which Baer system you purchase.

The very first section of the Baercom instructions explains the BAER signal; what it is, what it looks like, and why. Well, it is a Baer tester you are or will be using, so you want to become very familiar with that Baer signal, right? Who would try to use any tester with little or no understanding what you are testing for? We live in a world where our fruity little hand-held devices do everything for us. Baer testing is not like that at all! Especially if you get paid for Baer testing, you had better be very familiar with the canine Baer signal, no matter which tester you use. It is not rocket science; it just requires effort and experience on your part to come up to speed. That is why we recommend spending hours testing one or more animals, in a totally no pressure, no fee, no hassle environment. There is no excuse not to do this. And you should literally jump at any opportunity for Neurology training, maybe even first thing!

Let me give you some inside information. From our perspective, the most important sentence in the instructions is this one: 'If it is the BAER signal you are seeing, the results will be very close, one collection after another.' This applies to any tester, not just the Baercom! Ok, so I timed this. 20 scans (2000 BAER data collection passes) should show you a good Baer signal. How long does 20 scans take with the Baercom? 1 minute! One extra minute is all it takes for you to run another collection and verify if what you are seeing is the Baer signal, or raging noise. This second verification collection is such a good idea that many records bodies now require two Baer traces per ear! Do your customers a favor and make sure. It doesn't take long.

Yes, I am supressing a smile right now. Someone called our Baercom instructions big and scary. I cannot promise it is a lucid tome, but seriously... As complex as the Baer testing process is... Oh well...

And I don't know... We live in a world where you can say something, and it can literally circle the globe for thousands to hear, to read, and then smash back to you on the internet, in 30 minutes or less. Well we seldom hear what people are saying about the Baercom 'out there', but the following is worth considering. We have been selling EEG signal conditioners, along with portable data recorders for EEG and a wide variety of other physiological signals, into the medical research market for decades. And micro-controllers have increasingly played a crucial role in many of these systems. We have also supplied capable, useful and accurate test equipment to researchers for just as long. We have also had to battle the PC computer operating system... nevermind. The Baercom was born into this rich technical background over 15 years ago, and we have worked steadily at minor improvements along the way, mostly to the PC software. And the only academian that we know who has spent appreciable time with the Baercom loves it, because it is so much smaller than the other big testers she uses as well. What is my point? Well, maybe take what you read on the internet about our Baercom with a grain or two of salt, no matter whose name shows. And we have had a 30 day free trial program for state-side customers for years. You can try it for yourself, and make up your own mind.




Order Mumbo-jumbo

-- I Just Want my Baercom or Baercom Gizmo!

Payment via Credit Card (MC/V only) is the fastest way to place your order. This is the information we need:

If simplicity is your game, just COPY the outline above, then paste it into an EMail! Of course you need to change it to show your details. And mention the 30 Day Free Trial if you want that (USA customers only!). Next, change the EMail 'Re:' field to say 'Baercom Stuff Order' or something similar. The EMail address needs to be mail@ufiservingscience.com and maybe double-check that!

Hit Send... boom... done!


-- Ok, lay it all out for me



Miscellaneous items





Product Families:
Transducers
Electrodes
Bioamps/signal conditioners
Ambulatory data loggers
Hot Flash Recording
BAERCOM™ hearing tester
PC-based instruments
Multi-subject systems
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