CES 2019 was pretty busy with announcements from many of the hearing aid brands. Not to be outdone, Starkey Hearing Technologies announced a host of upgrades and capabilities to their new Livio AI product including the first-ever Fall Detection and Alert capability within a hearing aid, as well as Heart Rate Measurement and a built-in Virtual Assistant. I think this is groundbreaking stuff, in fact, I think we will look back on this period as the turning point in the evolution of hearing aids. Let’s take a look at what is going on.
Driving Change in Hearing Aid Use Case
Starkey is at the forefront of driving the change of use case for hearing aids. I believe that hearing aids should do much more than help you hear better. I think there is an opportunity for hearing aid brands to deliver integrated health devices that make your life better. I think a great part of that is monitoring of our health, or possibly even more important, the health of a loved one. Starkey is introducing capabilities and features that move the Livio AI towards that integrated health device concept. Here are the features including the new ones.
- Translation in 27 languages
- Amazon® Alexa connectivity
- Rechargeable option – NEW
- Fall Detection and Alerts – NEW
- Heart Rate Measurement – NEW
- Voice-to-text Transcription – NEW
- Natural user interface with tap control
- Self Check for hearing performance – NEW
- Thrive Virtual Assistant, built on Google Assistant – NEW
I think that each of these features and capabilities makes sense within the context of a hearing aid. I have heard other professionals dismiss them as ancillary fluff. I don’t think so, in fact, I want my hearing aids to do so much more than just help me hear better. That’s just the baseline for me. The thing is, I wear my hearing aids during every one of my waking hours, so do most people with hearing loss. So they are ideal platforms for an integrated health concept.
Want To Make Sure Your Loved One is Okay Without Removing Their Independence?
I know many people who worry about their older mom or dad, living at home on their own. Finding it difficult but not ready to give up their independence. Fall detection and alerts give peace of mind for people in this situation. According to the National Council on Aging in the US, every 11 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury and one in every three older adults – about 12 million – fall every year in the U.S. With onboard fall detection, your mom or dad takes a fall and you get notified about it straight away. Tech like that means that older people can get to live independent lives for longer while reducing the worry. I mean how cool is that?
Biometric Sensor Integration
The integration of a biosensor that tracks heart rate is another cool piece of additional tech. For people with underlying conditions biosensors can play a part in the monitoring of their condition. They can also play a part in the monitoring of the treatment of those conditions. Again, this isn’t fluff for many of the people who wear hearing aids, it is a very useful tool.
Attractive to The Healthy
These features are attractive to the healthy because generally, they damn well want to stay that way. There has been an explosion in health-related wearables, Apple watches, Fitbit, etc. Hearing aids that deliver comprehensive health data will deliver the same information. The integration is the key, you just have to wear one device.
I know I say this a lot, but this is an exciting time in hearing aids. Like I said, I think we will look back on this period as the turning point in the evolution of hearing aids to integrated health & communication devices.