Hearables: industry opinion is divided

AudiologyNOW!

Bragi's Dash product
Bragi's Dash product

Following the announcement of Starkey’s partnership with Bragi in January there has been much talk about hearables in the industry. There is no consensus of opinion across hearing aid manufacturers. Here is what some of them had to say.

“I think that is a totally different ball game; that’s consumer electronics that represents something totally different,” said Søren Nielsen, President of Oticon, when asked if Oticon would be looking into the hearables sector. “In the group we have a joint venture with Sennheiser who do headsets who are totally involved in that whole trend. But for consumers that are hard of hearing, discreteness and dedication to hearing is so much more important than whether you can tell my pulse or other stuff that belongs in the consumer electronics basket. We are focussing on delivering benefits to people that are hard of hearing.”

Martin Grieder, Group Vice President with Phonak, also does not want to compete with the consumer good industry, although he does think it is something that will affect the industry: “Probably five or six years from now, you will see consumers walking around with a hearable in their ear. It will be standard. A hearable will do simultaneous translation, it will have other value added services like Siri, and probably these consumer goods companies will add light amplification. So that will be somewhat of a competition in the mild segment. But from our perspective it will grow awareness and it will grow the market. We have taken a strategic decision that we do not want to compete head on in the consumer goods industry with these players. Our field is a medical device field and that is where we want to build our know-how, build our strength. Our strategy is to leverage those emerging technologies and to build them into future hearing aids that we will be launching and to potentially have some partnerships with companies who are emerging in that field - I wouldn’t exclude that.”

Jesper Ahlmann Funding Andersen, SVP of Global Sales & Marketing for Widex, said, “I think there definitely is a trend. The hearing health market is vastly under penetrated. To me connectivity and hearables are part of opening up the market, so yes I think you will see that in many forms and shapes in the future.”

Roland Heichel, Head of Corporate Product Marketing from Signia, is concerned about a different aspect of the hearables trend, “[Hearables are] something that every company looks into. But for me what happens with the regulations? Hearing instruments are regulated and defined as medical products but it is not yet clear with hearables. It depends what happens with the regulations. I haven’t seen a clear or common direction.”

Interested in hearables?

Photo: Bragi.

Victoria Adshead, editor in chief of Audio Infos United Kingdom