Twenty four million Americans have hearing losses but wont’ or can’t shell out a couple thousand bucks for a single – that’s one – hearing aid.
If you’re one of them, Congress actually did you a huge favor last hear by passing a law that approves direct to consumer hearing aids. Its purpose is to provide adults with mild to moderate hearing loss access to hearing devices without going to a physician first!. Presumably, the price to hearing aids will first be in the range of $1,000 (and lower as competition is introduced).
Mom, Dad . . . . since you probably can’t hear me, I’ll send you this info in an email!
Now, the FDA just approved the first new product manufactured by – not a medical company – but by an consumer audio technology company, Bose. As in the famous Bose speakers we’ve all loved for decades.
It’s a user-controlled hearing device called the Bose Hearing Aid, and let’s people fit, program and control their own hearing aids – no doctors required!
The hearing aid uses air conduction to capture sound vibrations through the microphone. From there, the device processes the signal, amplifies it and then plays it back through an earphone inside the ear canal. Through a mobile app, people can adjust the hearing aid.
Before approving the device for marketing, the FDA says it reviewed data from clinical trials of 125 patients. Those studies showed comparable results to those with professionally fitted devices. “In addition, when participants self-fit the Bose Hearing Aid, they generally preferred those hearing aid settings over the professionally-selected setting,” the FDA wrote in a blog post.
Bose is not the first company to try this. The now-defunct startup Doppler Labs developed earbuds with active listening, enabling people to augment the way they heard the world. There’s also Nuheara, which unveiled earbuds earlier this year that are designed to boost hearing. What makes Bose’s different, however, is the FDA approval.
The FDA is in the process of drafting regulations regarding new over-the-counter category of hearing aids that are expected to be implemented in 2020.
Yikes, a twenty-four million market with only one provider, for now. I suspect the folks at Bose are still popping champagne bottles!