Hearing loss can be a devastating blow, whether anticipatory or sudden. It can be hard to know where to start in terms of auditory assistance and medical help to plan for the future. With more than 15% of American adults experiencing some form of hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, you are not alone. But, the options for hearing aids can feel seemingly endless.
Enter Bose, a manufacturer known for high-quality audio equipment. The move comes as part of a deal that started with the 2014 acquisition of Ear Machine, a startup company that was working with the U.S. National Institute of Health on technology to control that allowed users to control the settings on their hearing aids through a mobile app without the help of an audiologist.
This led to the establishment of the Bose Health division in early 2018 with its proposed direct-to-consumer “self-fitting air-conduction hearing aids” that don’t require pre-programming or a hearing test. Bose then filed a request with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its own brand of Hearing Aids.
Here’s what you need to know leading up to the release of Bose’s Hearing Aids and how they will fit into the existing hearing aid landscape.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- If the Bose Hearing Aid is available yet
- What the Bose Hearing Aid looks like
- How much the Bose Hearing Aid would cost
- The difference between Bose Hearing Aids and Hearphones
- How the Bose Hearing Aid is FDA approved
- Nano hearing aid alternatives
Is the Bose Hearing Aid available yet?
While Bose’s Hearphones — the company’s conversation-enhancing headphones — have been available since 2017, the Bose Hearing Aids still have yet to hit the market. The FDA documentation has been filed, but no release date has been announced. (More on the FDA’s approval later.) The wheels are in motion for a nationwide release in a couple of years, though the company has not specifically made any statements that indicate a certain arrival date.
What does the Bose Hearing Aid look like?
If you’ve seen the Bose Hearphones, the Hearing Aids look nearly identical. The earbuds are connected to a flexible neckband with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery inside. The ear-tip mounted on each earbud comes in three different sizes to suit the user.
Each earbud has two microphones with omnidirectional or directional modes to enhance understanding of speech in noisy locations. Like other hearing aids (and the ZVOX VoiceBuds), active noise reduction reduces environmental sounds and leaves speech intact, allowing users to better differentiate the conversation from background noise. The Bose Hearing Aids will also feature Bluetooth audio streaming from smartphones for both music and phone calls.
How much would the Bose Hearing Aid cost?
The cost of the Bose Hearing Aids will vary depending on the features you want, like the capability to stream calls from your smartphone. It’s important to note that circumventing a prescription means the Bose Hearing Aids likely won’t be covered by most health insurance plans, though there may be options for a tax deduction. Additionally, unlike the Bose Hearphones that come at a $499 price tag, the cost of FDA approval will likely be built in to the anticipated higher price of the Hearing Aids, once a price has been set by Bose.
Is Bose making a hearing aid or headphone?
Bose is already known for their headphones, speakers, and sound systems, so it’s no surprise they have ventured into the hearing aid market. According to the FDA filing, Bose hearing aid features include active noise reduction, feedback cancellation, three different user-controlled directionality modes, impulse noise control, left/right balance, separate hearing aid and streaming audio volumes, voice prompts, and 10-hour battery life. In addition, an iOS or Android app will be available to control the hearing aid’s settings from a user’s phone.
Is the Bose hearing aid FDA approved?
In March 2018, Bose filed a fast-track de novo request with the FDA for its proposed hearing aids, essentially proving there is no market equivalent in the U.S. to date. That October, the FDA granted Bose’s request and approved marketing the hearing aids to U.S. customers.
“The Bose Hearing Aid provides performance benefits consistent with that of the same hearing aid fitted by hearing professionals for individuals ages 18 and older with mild to moderate hearing loss,” the FDA summary notes. “A self-fitting air-conduction hearing aid is a wearable sound-amplifying device that is intended to compensate for impaired hearing and incorporates technology, including software, that allows users to program their hearing aids. This technology integrates user input with a self-fitting strategy and enables users to independently derive and customize their hearing aid fitting and settings.”
FDA approval is just one step of the process when releasing a new medical device, but it is an important step that signals to customers that the product has met certain safety standards. Bose’s Hearing Aids can be adjusted by the user on an as-needed basis, rather than only with the help of an audiologist.
Bose Hearing Aids Alternative: ZVOX Voicebuds
One alternative in the hearing aid market is the ZVOX Voicebuds, crafted in the U.S. using American-made parts.
Designed with help from one of the world’s leading audiologists, ZVOX Voicebuds are FDA-registered hearing aids that are backed by a 60-day home trial. Like the Bose Hearing Aids, Voicebuds are designed to be adjusted by the consumer with no help needed from an audiologist.
Phone and online support is always available to answer any questions, if needed, with customer service centers based in two U.S. states — Massachusetts and New Mexico. They provide one-on-one guidance for free with the purchase of any ZVOX hearing aid.
The ZVOX Voicebud VB20 easy-to-use features include:
- VoiceBud hearing aids use a two-microphone NoiseBlocker system designed to reduce volume levels of distracting background sounds.
- High quality, American-made electronics components.
- App lets you control VoiceBud hearing aids from your smartphone or tablet.
- Wide frequency range (more than 5.5 kHz) for natural, accurate sound.
- Six ear dome choices included so you can choose the size that fits your ear.
- Includes accessories to make a single VoiceBud usable for either ear.
Optional UV Dryer keeps VoiceBuds clean and disinfected.
Now more than ever, consumers are looking to take their health in their own hands. Rather than being prescribed some out-of-the-box solution, consumers are being provided options that they can then tailor to their own needs and budget, minus the unnecessary back-and-forth trips to the audiologist for adjustments. The days of making voices easier to understand and reducing distracting sounds are literally at your fingertips.