Jacoti presents views and insights of the Consumerisation of hearing technology

November 5th, 2020
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Hearing4all Symposium The Future of Hearing

The goal of the interdisciplinary cluster of excellence "Hearing4all" is hearing for everyone. Above all, this means better communication for each individual.

Transcript:

Today, even after 120 years of existence, hearing aids are used by less than 10% of the global population that need them, with only a 3% adoption rate in low/middle income countries. Reasons for this underperformance include:

  • User access and distribution model
  • End user price
  • Limited overall audio quality
  • Stigma

Originally intending to improve speech understanding in those with moderate to profound hearing loss, resulted in devices with:

  • Reduced bandwidths
  • High amplification requiring intrusive feedback cancellation
  • Complexity of fitting

This has become incompatible for those with mild to moderate hearing loss and an interest in audio quality beyond speech.

Additionally, the business model itself has further hindered the devices’ adoption. Being reimbursed in many countries has removed the need for the industry to tailor its pricing strategies. This has been compounded by the product price being bundled with the service provision, leading to the device dispenser fulfilling both the role of clinical service provider and salesman.

The Covid-19 pandemic has precipitated a change to service delivery models, including audiology, from low- touch to no-touch and from product fee to service fee and local to remote audiology. USA regulators are also demanding change with the creation of the OTC device category and the approval in 2018 of the first self-fitting hearing device.

New device categories for hearing support have appeared also including PSAP’s and hearables. Consumer companies e.g. Apple, Samsung and Jabra by GN Resound have also entered the market, with legally tuned medical claims, but with a positive reception by the market offering Bluetooth Earbuds which exceed the capabilities of most hearing aids. These devices offer huge economies of scale – Apple AirPods alone equates to the revenue of the entire hearing aid industry – with product prices a fraction of that of a hearing aid.

After 9 years of innovation Jacoti BV is able to offer:

  • A mobile hearing aid application.
  • A mobile audiometer as an iOS application.
  • The combination of both as a self-fitting hearing aid.
  • With server connectivity remotely accessible and tunable by hearing professionals.
  • All of the above certified as medical device software applications.

With consumer electronic headsets/earbuds offering wireless connectivity, loaded with microphones and sensors built around a powerful DSP, the company ported its software into the chip and effectively created a new class of product capable of satisfying a new group of global consumers.

The consumer will now be able to purchase a headset:

  • Perform a hearing self-test
  • Produce a calibrated audiogram
  • Apply an accepted fitting formula
  • Store all data on a cloud platform
  • Allow remote access by a qualified hearing professional for remote optimisation,
  • if required

This headset will offer the mild to moderate hearing loss user a hearing aid mode and a Bluetooth streaming mode where the audio is enhanced to their unique needs.

The full power of this platform can be unleashed fully in further cooperated development of specialists in the field of audiology, AI, audio engineering and signal processing.

True consumerisation of hearing technologies will lead to “hearing without barriers”, its quality and performance no longer related to the user’s income or social status.