It is difficult to distinguish between consumer technology and medical technology. Apple Watch or Fitbit Sense are consumer technology, but they will also tell you how much oxygen in your blood, how healthy your heart is, and how much heat you have burned per day.
Now we see a similar change in hearing technology.
For those who can be caught dead with hearing aids, the time is near. While perhaps one-fifth of us lose hearing, only 10-20% of those use traditional hearing aids.
The main reason? Discrimination.
That’s what Signia Active hearing aids were designed to fix.
“There is a lot of discrimination when it comes to hearing aids, but we also know that many people need this help to help them hear in different places,” said Tish Ramirez, VP at WSAudiology who recently told me on the TechFirst podcast. “People wear earphones everywhere – you see them in the park, you see them in grocery stores. You know, sometimes people want to be shown when they buy groceries, they have ears in their ears, and these are directly related to the ears that are out there today.
Ramirez is a director of a hearing technology company, WSAudiology, which has a wide range of hearing aids, including Signia.
But he is also a customer, as he was born deaf. And being able to wear something that people ask him about like new AirPods or other hot consumer technologies than staring or avoiding like traditional hearing aids is fun, he says.
They are visible, but cool. And they look like high tech, Ramirez says … what traditional hearing aids obviously don’t do.
Yes, it looks good, but performance is important.
And the function is about the user with hearing aids.
Dad had a hearing loss before he died a few years ago, and one of the challenges was managing small wires, connected devices, turning on and off small switches, and replacing batteries. Eyes at 80 are no longer as bright as before, and 80-year-old hands do not always have the same splendor they had in 20 or 30 years.
Since the Signia Active is the same as the Apple AirPod or the standard earbud, there is no confusion with the pieces and pieces. Put it in your ear like a standard earbud or AirPod, and you’re ready to go.
“This allows the wearer to control and change the sounds of the hearing aids depending on their current situation,” said Ramirez. “So, you know, now it’s just like not having a relationship with an ear specialist, but now you have a kind of hearing care specialist in your pocket with an app, right, to give you that fix that might require just one specific condition. ”
You still need an ear specialist to do the same and make the first adjustment, Signia said.
And that particular idea is the worst part of the product.
I understand that good medical advice is important, and skilled professionals are important in health care, including hearing. There are also national laws and regulations on how to sell hearing aids aimed at protecting people. But the control model has led to increased and inconsistent prices: easily $ 4,000 to $ 7,000. I saw my parents have to move large amounts of these devices into retirement salaries, and when you start typing “why they hear …” on Google, you can see that I’m still a long way off.
Clearly, the middle-aged model where hearing aids are only available after professional consultation has led to significant and sometimes hidden costs. And the gap between what you can get from a $ 200-500 consumer device and a $ 5,000 health device continues to grow.
Because, of course, the integration of consumer technology with medical or healthcare technology takes place on both sides.
While hearing aids are gaining ground as consumer audio devices, earbuds and headphones acquire hearing aids. That starts with features like Apple’s live listening, where your iPhone or iPad can act as a microphone. Put it next to the object or person you want to listen to, move the sound to your AirPods, and get a lot of hearing power instantly.
But there are more elaborate sets like other ears from Nuheara that I tested a few years ago. Nuheara and the producers allow you to enjoy hearing aids and listening to music.
At $ 400, Nuheara (new-hear-a, get it) earbuds offer audio cancellation and a focus on direct understanding, as well as other features such as amplifying and enhancing “conversation.” The company realizes that it is not calling them hearing aids – perhaps for legal reasons – instead calling them hearing aids. I didn’t end up updating it a few years ago, mostly because I didn’t think they had amazing quality, but it is possible that the new version is better.
Four years ago in the U.S., Congress passed a law requiring the FDA to establish a category of non-cellular hearing aids. So far that has not borne fruit. The wheels of government are slowly turning: maybe there will be proper regulation and separation for a year or more and these devices will be able to sell and sell more with hearing loss.
All told, I’m happy with the Signia Active devices.
Although there is no such thing as a natural sensation, they have improved my ability to adapt to certain sounds. (Note: I have no hearing loss.) They also give you the ability to stream TV audio for an additional product, charge the same as AirPods with a built-in internal battery, and the case offers wireless Qi charging.
Therefore, they are simple, powerful, effective, and easy to integrate into your life.
It is important to find people with hearing aids that do not feel discriminated against, especially the elderly, and these are good-looking devices that do not shout “hearing aids” to everyone around you.