Consumer-driven Trends in Hearing Aids

Consumer-driven Trends in Hearing Aids

Every year we see advancements in technology and design from the simplest robotic toys to the most cutting-edge cars and smart home systems. Year after year these products become sleeker, faster, and smarter while somehow still remaining user friendly. Hearing aids are no exception. Since the launch of the first completely digital hearing aid in 1996 the technological improvements have not stopped.

While many of today’s tech products are developed with the hope of creating a consumer demand, hearing aids were originally created based on consumer’s needs.  Now, hearing aids are evolving like other technologies and are based on the demands of the consumer, especially the baby boomers. Martha Stewart said it best, “Seventy is nothing like the 70 of 20 or 40 years ago, 70 is the new 50!” she told New You magazine. “Not everyone wants to retire, and very few people want to slow down.”  To keep up with this dynamic group, hearing aid manufacturers continue to develop hearing aids that were both cosmetically appealing and technologically advanced.

To begin with, the traditional behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid got a makeover, becoming the sleek modern reciever-in-the-canal (RIC) instrument people are wearing today. Even though this technology was introduced in 1983 it did not become widely adopted by manufacturers until the early 2000s when consumers demanded smaller devices. This style is designed to hide the speaker in the ear canal while the rest of the hearing aid hides behind the ear. The RIC is now the most popular choice for both consumers and audiologists as it is virtually invisible when worn on the ear.

Cosmetics aside the hearing aids also needed to keep up with constantly changing acoustic environments. To account for this the computer chip inside the hearing aid was updated to automatically adapt as the acoustic environment changed; seamlessly switching on and off features such as adaptive directional microphones, low frequency noise reduction, wind noise management, complex noise reduction, impulse noise reduction, and so on. The result is effortless hearing throughout the day.

The most recent development by one of the manufacturers is Neural Network Processing.

Of course, size and technology were not the only changes. As people became more tech savvy and married to their cellphones, tablets, and wireless headphones, the demand for a compatible hearing aid rose. The result was Bluetooth-compatible hearing aids. So now those wearing hearing aids could wirelessly stream phone calls, music, and movies right to their ears through their hearing aids.

Now more than ever, consumers are looking to purchase products that are environmentally friendly. The answer was rechargeable hearing aids. The obvious result was less batteries going to the landfill, but another advantage was ease of use. Those with arthritis and poor dexterity who previously struggled to change the tiny batteries weekly were now able to simply set their hearing aids into a charger at the end of the day.

Despite all the consumer driven changes from smaller and smarter to better sound quality and environmental friendliness, research studies found that what made hearing aid users happiest is when they can hear the TV. Fortunately, there is a gadget for that. The use of TV streaming devices is on the rise.  The devices stream programs right to hearing aids, removing distance from and background noise around the television. But, as Martha stated earlier those who are 70 and older are not looking to slow down. Which is probably why I am also seeing an increase in the use of remote microphones among Baby Boomers choosing to stay in the workforce. Like the TV streamers, the remote microphone can be set on a table or given to the speaker to transmit speech directly to the hearing aids while removing distance and noise that could interfere with the speech signal.

Indisputably hearing aids have come a long way in the past 5-10 years but the fitting process had remained stagnant until I launched Boutique Hearing. This realization and the fact that people needed and wanted more personalized attention from their audiologist led to the founding of Boutique Hearing. In my opinion Boutique Hearing’s modernized approach to audiology is one of the most innovative shifts in audiologic patient care in the past decade.

Boutique Hearing’s concept of concierge audiology is a groundbreaking approach to hearing aid fittings where hearing aids are programmed in the environments where they will be worn. This results in a convenient, precise, customized hearing aid fitting where clients know exactly how they will hear before the appointment is over. If your ready to experience better hearing call me at Boutique Hearing to schedule your unique consult today. As a bonus if you mention this blog and you will receive $100 off.

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