In the last few days, it has been announced that Phillips is re-entering the hearing aid market with the launch of a new hearing aid range called Hearlink. The range has been introduced in collaboration with Demant (the owners of the Oticon, Bernafon and Sonic hearing aid brands). This isn’t the first time that Phillips has had their name on hearing aids. Quite a long time ago Phillips hearing aids were renowned for quality and reliability. However, they decided to leave the business, what has brought them back, why now and what have they got to offer? Let’s talk Phillips Hearlink hearing aids.
Phillips is collaborating with Demant and for the moment, Demant is providing the hardware involved. Anyone familiar with Oticon, Bernafon or indeed Sonic will recognise the hearing aid models and accessories that Phillips are offering. The audiological strategies inside the hearing aids are pretty similar to Bernafon core strategies, at least for the moment. That may change as Phillips gears up their own research and design team. Let’s look at the announcement and then look at the range available.
Copenhagen, Denmark, April 10th, 2019 – Demant is pleased to announce the introduction of Philips branded hearing aids to the global hearing aid market. A new player, the Philips brand is entering the hearing healthcare market with a complete range of premium hearing aids, accessories, and applications to best serve hearing aid users. These Philips Hearing Solutions will quickly become a trusted brand with hearing care providers and users, as it has great potential around the world to present unique opportunities for hearing care professionals in an ever-evolving market.
“Based on a shared vision of improving the lives of people through innovative healthcare this new cooperation will not only change the way we see hearing healthcare, but also widen the definition of hearing healthcare, supporting healthier lifestyles and active aging,” says Spencer Ramsey, Senior Director, Brand Licensing, Philips. “Combining Demant’s world-leading hearing aid technology with Philips’ global brand presence in healthcare, the cooperation will enrich the hearing healthcare experience”.
“The Philips hearing aids will provide users with an innovative, future-proof hearing solution,” says Søren Nielsen, CEO & President, Demant. “We live in an age where user engagement and digital services are shaping the future of healthcare technology. More and more people are conscious of taking control of their own personal healthcare and are using electronic devices to do so. In this light, Philips Hearing Solutions offers new and exciting premium solutions alongside Philips’ healthcare ecosytem, which will attract interest and generate significant benefits to users, ultimately supporting our valued customer base of hearing care professionals.”
The new premium Philips hearing aids, named Philips HearLink, are now available for trained and educated hearing care professionals in selected countries across the globe: Philips HearLink will enable users to listen better so that they can better connect with the people they care for. Users will also benefit from connectivity between their hearing aids and the devices they use in their everyday life, such as smartphones and televisions. The look and feel of the Philips HearLink hearing aids caters to today’s baby boomer generation with design and usability developed for this expanding market.
“With this partnership, we take connected hearing healthcare to the next level and offer new and exciting solutions within integrated healthcare services to the benefit of both professionals and people suffering from a hearing loss. Health, caring and innovation are cornerstones in the vision of both Demant and Philips, which makes the partnership a great match for the future. Furthermore, it will strengthen and add value to both companies’ ambition to improve people’s lives,” Søren Nielsen concludes.
Phillips’ Healthcare Ecosystem
To be honest, the only part of that statement that caught my eye was the mention of the healthcare suite that Phillips provides. The rest is just the typical blurb of any press release. The Phillips’ healthcare ecosystem is a wide-ranging cloud-based tool for healthcare. Phillips says “HealthSuite digital platform offers both a native cloud-based infrastructure and the core services needed to develop and run a new generation of connected healthcare applications.”
In the context of both the brand, the hearing devices and the market aspirations, what could that mean moving forward? I think there are many possibilities, for instance, leveraging a smartphone the system could be used to undertake a deep analysis of sound situations and changes made by users, ala Widex Machine Learning. The system could also be used to allow deeper manipulation of the function of hearing aids and background data analysis of those manipulations.
Hell, the system could be used for self-fitting and fine-tuning moving forward while allowing deep analysis of those protocols If combined with other health data from other Phillips health suit apps it could lead to better understanding of patterns in relation to hearing and wider health. I have said it before, we are only limited by our imagination here, or at least the imagination of the designers.
As per the announcement, the new Hearlink range will be available in only a few global markets initially with the UK and USA being two of them. I think that the use of the brand Phillips can help with consumer awareness for the wider market. The theory is that no consumer recognises the brand of the hearing aids they wear. I don’t believe that is the case any longer, in fact, this site and others have worked diligently to ensure that is no longer true over many years. Having said that, Phonak, Oticon or Widex are not exactly household names.
Moving forward, it will be interesting to see what Phillips do with the brand and what channels they will decide to use. While Demant has become involved with them in order that the wider consumer recognition strategy can be used. Phillips probably has its own plans in relation to channels. I rather think Demant will find it an interesting ride. For the moment and with the Hearlink range it seems you will need to go to a hearing care professional to try them out. The question is though, will that remain the case? That will be an interesting one.
The Hearlink Range
The range is made up of seven hearing aid models at five different technology levels or price points. The devices are three receiver in canal devices, the miniRITE, the miniRITE-T, the miniRITE-TR. One behind the ear device the BTE PP and finally three custom in the ear hearing aids, the IIC, the CIC and the ITC.
The technology levels are named as follows:
- Hearlink 9010 (premium range
- Hearlink 7010
- Hearlink 5010
- Hearlink 3000
- Hearlink 2000
In a later article, I will give you a full rundown of the hearing aids and their features.
Hearing Aid Accessories
The accessories for the devices are exactly as you would expect if you are familiar with Oticon or Bernafon. There are a multi-functional remote mic streamer, a TV streamer and a small remote control. Again, when I am covering the hearing aids I will also detail the accessories.
Interesting times ahead I think, it will be fascinating to see what Phillips decides to do over the next couple of years.