Hewlett Packard moves into hearing space with Nuheara




Australian firm Nuheara is the latest manufacturer to launch an over-the-counter (OTC) hearing device, trading blows in the early rounds of an inevitable price war, but choosing to license not under its own name but through a well known partner, Hewlett Packard's HP brand.

The new hearing aids - the HP Hearing Pro - will appear later this year and sell for $699 on Amazon and other major retailers.

OTC is already a fast moving story of super hearers and surprise sidekicks, like Batman and Robin but without knowing which one drives the Batmobile. Is the over-the-counter hearing aid manufacturer the protagonist, or is it the well-known consumer tech firm. The answer may depend on which market you are coming from.

Dynamic OTC duos

October was always a good month historically for revolutions. We learned that WS Audiology will go out with Sony (Sony has already released two devices, the CRE-C10 and the CRE-E10 that are almost identical in look to the earlier released WS Vibe and Signia Active Pro devices ). Bose has teamed up with Lexie. October also saw Lucid Hearing pop up with seven hearing aids at prices ranging from $199 to $799.

But so far without any rumours of dynamic duoing, Starkey let it be known it has its own OTC device ready. And GN Hearing owns the consumer tech brand Jabra through which its Enhance Plus OTC aid was slipped into the market many months back, initially as a well-masked crusader way before the company put it in for FDA clearance in the OTC category.

So, what does the Nuheara/HP OTC aid offer?

An earbud form factor, noise cancellation, and water resistance are all part of the HP Hearing Pro profile. Nuheara claims the device is "clinically proven to be substantially equivalent to a professionally fit hearing aid". Each earbud is expected to last for up to eight hours on a full charge.

Key to the OTC experience in this case is an HP-branded app for iOS and Android that deals with the self-fitting personalisation part of the process. The wearer's hearing thresholds are tested through Nuheara’s own Ear ID software, which automatically programs the HP Hearing PRO hearing aids for each ear.

The US market is the tip of the iceberg, says Nuheara CEO John Luna

On November 1, Nuheara announced it had US clearance in the OTC category for the HP Hearing Pro. In a MedTech Dive interview published on November 3, Nuheara CEO John Luna underlined OTC's potential to drastically alter the hearing aid market, predicting the spread of this cheaper tech across the globe.

Luna told MedTech Dive that if manufacturers can reach the 85% of people with hearing loss who do not have a solution, then predictions could be surpassed to result in a market worth more than $17 billion by 2029.

Source: MedTech Dive