Innovation in the Hearing Aid Market

There has been a burst of innovation in the hearing aid market. I’m in the process of getting hearing aids. As luck would have it, the NY Times has an article about the new products.

 innovation in the hearing aid market

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The Times article mentions Soundly, a hearing aid review website. Soundly includes a review of a Bose aid that is very innovative and cheap (relatively). The Bose device sits completely in your ear rather than the over-the-year design.  But it also includes a rechargeable battery, making it unique among in-ear aids.  Here’s the first part of the Soundly review:

Lexie B2 - Powered By Bose - Prices, Reviews and Sound Samples Soundly Innovation in the hearing aid market

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These babies list for $999.  But you can save $50 buying from Amazon

The Times notes that this innovation was spurred by a decision from the FDA.  In 2022 the agency approved the sale of over-the-counter devices.  With complicated technology, it always takes some time for competitors to emerge.  Are you ready for a hearing aid that has a mobile app to control some aspects (like volume)? How about Bluetooth so you can stream from your smartphone?  Here’s how the Times starts their review:

Ayla Wing’s middle school students don’t always know what to make of their 26-year-old teacher’s hearing aids. The most common response she hears: “Oh, my grandma has them, too.”

But grandma’s hearing aids were never like this: Bluetooth-enabled and connected to her phone, they allow Ms. Wing to toggle with one touch between custom settings. She can shut out the world during a screeching subway ride, hear her friends in noisy bars during a night out and even understand her students better by switching to “mumbly kids.”

A raft of new hearing aids have hit the market in recent years, offering greater appeal to a generation of young adults that some experts say is both developing hearing problems earlier in life and — perhaps paradoxically — becoming more comfortable with an expensive piece of technology pumping sound into their ears.

Some of the new models, including Ms. Wing’s, are made by traditional prescription brands, which usually require a visit to a specialist. But the Food and Drug Administration opened up the market last year when it allowed the sale of hearing aids over the counter. In response, brand names like Sony and Jabra began releasing their own products, adding to the new wave of designs and features that appeal to young consumers.

I’ll just add that the new entrants to the market are generally offering significantly lower prices.  The Bose hearing aid leads the reviews at $999. I’m looking at aids that are $4,200.  At least that’s for a pair, not apiece.  To say that there’s room under that price umbrella is an understatement. This move could be the most significant reduction in consumer prices since airline deregulation in 1980.

About Tony Lima

Technologist and economist. Semi-professional wine taster. Started working with computers in 1965, moved into desktop machines in 1979.

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