Sony and WS Audiology team up as the OTC era fires into life

Sony Corporation and WS Audiology have announced a joint project to launch products into the over-the-counter (OTC) self-fitting hearing aid market, with the US market as its testing ground.

Published on 14 September 2022

Sony and WS Audiology team up as the OTC era fires into life

Products from this partnership are to be announced closer to their launch date, but the two companies believe that Sony’s history of audio and product miniaturization technologies, brand, and broad consumer sales and service infrastructure can combine with WSA’s hearing aid technology, innovation strength, and power in distribution to produce the right product to take advantage of August’s definitive regulation of OTC products by the US Food and Drug Administration.


Sony’s B2C channel – just one of the combined approach strengths


Freshly signed and rubber-stamped is a main partnership agreement between the two groups, and various ancillary agreements. From the Sony side comes a wealth of know-how in consumer audio, embracing electroacoustics, signal processing, context recognition, AI and Cloud tech, brand and own design resources, and a mighty B2C sales channel. WSA contributes its own signal processing expertise, audiology and fitting technology, form factor innovation, manufacturing and service, and an important B2B sales channel. What the two combine in an OTC product are audiology expertise, IT/audio technology, and medical technology, making a monumental business asset.

From Sony, Osamu Hajimoto, Deputy President of New Business & Technology Development Group, expresses the deal as a chance to go on meeting the company’s Kando (emotion) and Anshin (calm of mind) ethos. “We are honoured to collaborate with WSA, one of the leading companies in hearing aid field, building up the trust of users for many years. We strive to utilise our longstanding technologies to contribute to ‘Anshin’ in people’s daily lives, and create ‘Kando’ by expanding the possibilities of future products and services, the executive commented.

Speaking for WS, a “thrilled” Chief Marketing Officer and President OTC, Maarten Barmentlo said: “”Sony was founded on a passion for sound quality and a desire to push the limits of audio engineering technology, enabling music lovers and audiophiles to get the listening experience they deserve and expect. Our joint passion for the best possible sound has clearly brought us together. With Sony’s renowned brand name and distribution network, we can take a big step forward to deliver on our purpose of Wonderful Sound for All.”


Is the OTC revolution under way?


Just a few weeks have passed since the FDA’s final ruling and guidance on OTC, and the market how now seen opening moves by two of the hearing aid sector’s big players, clear indications that there is a market the majors are going to covet. The day after the FDA announcement, GN Hearing announced that it was seeking OTC category approval device for its Jabra Enhance Plus device. Who is next to play an OTC card?

Source: PR Newswire