Photo: courtesy of Bose
Audio equipment maker Bose is wading into the world of hearing loss with the launch of its FDA-cleared SoundControl hearing aids.
The hearing aids were developed for adults with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss and are available direct-to-consumer without a prescription.
When paired with the connected Bose Hear app, users can fit, program and control their SoundControl hearing aids directly from their smartphones.
The app has fine-tuning settings for amplifying quiet sounds, modifying vocal frequencies and focusing on nearby or ambient sounds. Users can also name different audio settings for frequent activities and store them in the Bose Hear app under the Modes feature.
Consumers in Massachusetts, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas can purchase the SoundControl Hearing Aids for $849.95 directly from Bose beginning May 18. Bose is planning nationwide availability in the near future, according to the announcement.
WHY IT MATTERS
Approximately 48 million people in the U.S. deal with some degree of hearing loss, making it the third most common physical condition after arthritis and heart disease, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America.
Despite its prevalence, many people who experience hearing loss don’t get the care they need. Most adults with hearing loss wait an average of 10 years to seek treatment after first experiencing symptoms, according to a systematic review published in Laryngoscope.
A number of barriers, such as financial limitations, the stigma of hearing devices, inconvenience, other chronic health problems and unrealistic expectations, lead to the delay in care, the review says.
The Bose hearing aids provide an option for people struggling with hearing loss to get the care they need without having to visit a doctor.
In a clinical study, participants using a prototypical version of the hearing aids were able to program the device to similar sound parameters as those set by an audiologist. Further, participants who programmed their own sound settings reported they preferred their settings to those selected by the audiologist.
THE LARGER TREND
There are a number of direct-to-consumer hearing devices on the market.
Olive Union attempted to tackle the stigma of hearing devices by releasing its dual-purpose hearing aid and wireless earbud Olive Pro. The Olive Pro looks like a set of traditional Bluetooth earbuds, but it comes equipped with artificial intelligence to isolate unwanted noises and enhance music, conversations, TV and other sounds.
Last month, the company landed $7 million in Series B funding to expand its product line.
There’s also Whisper, which closed a $35 million Series B funding round last fall. The company offers a hearing system composed of three components: earpieces, a portable sound processor and a compatible mobile app.
ON THE RECORD
"In the United States alone, approximately 48 million people suffer from some degree of hearing loss that interferes with their life. But the cost and complexity of treatment have become major barriers to getting help," Brian Maguire, the category director of Bose Hear, said in a statement.
"The Bose Hear app lets owners set up and customize their SoundControl hearing aids from home – in less than an hour – to reconnect with the moments that matter. That's an amazing advancement the industry has been missing and nothing short of a breakthrough."