The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show just wrapped up in Las Vegas, and several hearing aid manufacturers released some new technology.
Oticon, one of the big six hearing aid manufacturers, announced the world’s first hearing fitness tracking tech with their new HearingFitness app, meant to be used with their Opn line of hearing aids. This actually won an Innovation Award for this year’s CES! My general impression is that the app is meant to positively reinforce the benefit of wearing their aids, as tracking tends to improve mental acuity and keep users socially engaged.
The new app will track hearing aid use, listening environments and other behavior, gathering and collating data with measurements of heart rate, sleep patterns and other health markers for other wearable devices. The new technology is designed to give Opn users advice and encouragement on ways to hear better, protect their hearing and stay healthier. (source)
This is especially important for the elderly population with age-related loss, and regular use of hearing aids is shown to stave off dementia.
Another big manufacturer, ReSound, did not announce brand-new tech, but won 3 Innovation Awards at CES this year, mainly due to their newest aids, the LiNX 3D and the ENZO 3D. You can read a little more about these on my hearing aid breakdown, but the honor comes from ReSound committing to providing the same smart connectivity in their ENZO aids for severe-to-profound loss that you see in their “lighter” models. That’s a HUGE benefit, as I’ve never gotten to enjoy bluetooth connectivity in the aids I need and currently wear.
No new tech from Starkey at CES, but they did host the Starkey Hearing Innovation Expo immediately before the CES weekend in Las Vegas and it was a big hit with a lot of VIP guests and speakers. Let me know if you’d like a write up on this kind of thing as well!
So far, I haven’t seen any CES news from the other main hearing aid manufacturers, but there were several other interesting product ideas that were presented.
Bragi, a company that specializes in wireless earbuds, announced they were partnering up with Mimi Hearing Technologies to create “Project Ears;” the details are scarce but it seems like the ear buds will auto-adapt to a user’s hearing for a personalized enhancement WITHOUT being a hearing aid. This would be interesting if it was able to combat tinnitus issues or actually help protect hearing in some environments.
In a similar vein, Nuheara announced their hybrid ear bud/amplification device specifically for voice enhancement, with a “hearing test” in the app.
The reason we’re seeing more companies branch into the hearing side of audio technology is due to the FDA’s deregulation of hearing aids last spring. This is an exciting new arena, but of course, I’m curious to see how closely regulated these are to avoid damage to hearing, as the companies seem mostly motivated to carve out a niche in a saturated market of wireless audio options.
What are your thoughts on some of the new announcements?