LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — As Starkey Hearing Technologies kicks off their 2016 Hearing Innovation Expo today in Las Vegas, one of the largest events for independent hearing care professionals in the US, a strategic partnership has been announced between the company and German startup Bragi, creators of The Dash, touted as “the world’s first truly wireless hearable”.
Chris McCormick, senior vice-president of marketing and chief marketing officer at Starkey, will introduce Starkey’s strategic partnership during this year’s expo. This year’s conference will be headlined by former presidents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, as well as other well known celebrities, such as Ben Affleck, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and many others.
“As hearing pioneers and tech design innovators, Starkey is thrilled to be working with Bragi to revolutionize the hearing aid industry and bring new technology and consumers to our hearing professionals” —Chris McCormick, Starkey Chief Marketing Officer
Partnership: A Hearing Industry First
In addition to the partnership with Bragi, it will also be announced that Satjiv S. Chahil has joined Starkey as a global marketing and innovations advisor. Chahil, a well known Silicon Valley-based marketing pioneer, has held leadership positions at Apple, Palm and HP, and has advised brands including BMW, Sony and Beats by Dre. According to the company’s press release, he will work with Starkey to develop strategies to expand the organization as a “global leader in hearable and wearable technology”.
According to Bragi founder, Nicolaj Hviid, “the partnership between the two companies creates immense value for our respective customers. Bragi’s advanced integration of sensorics provides tremendous value to hearing aid consumers, while Starkey’s invaluable knowledge of advanced audio processing and psychoacoustics expands Bragi’s potential to enable people to utilize contextual computing audible interfaces.”
“Starkey and Bragi have a shared vision that hearing aids and hearables can empower people to communicate and enhance their abilities.” –Nicolaj Hviid, Bragi founder
Industry: Poised for Further Change?
While hearables have been garnering a great deal of attention over the past year or more among hearing professionals and the industry, as has been documented by a number of articles at HHTM, it’s been primarily out of a fascination as to whether or not these devices dubbed “hearables” could truly make inroads among those (with hearing loss) who have not yet adopted hearing aids– a segment where PSAPs and other devices have had limited success.
To date, there has been no other traditional hearing aid manufacturer publicly supporting or partnering with a company like Bragi.
While Starkey is currently the exception, don’t be surprised in the coming months and years, as threats to the status quo continue, that other major players make similar moves to try and capture a portion of the potentially-lucrative hearable segment within the growing wearables market.
According to some analysts, the hearable market will hold an estimated value of $5 Billion by 2018.
While the International Hearing Society responded to these same proposed FDA rule changes with an adamant attempt to cling to the rules of an analog era, via their forty-three pages of anecdotes, and personal patient histories they continue to hurl nothing but, red herrings while simply ignoring the substantial statistical data to the contrary, Starkey is betting on progress, and change.
It seems that at least one of the “Big Six” is moving out of a strictly medical model, designed for a single use analog device, into the thoroughly digital, market driven era of ear level communications devices that provide both near, and far field communications advantages to their users.
Hats off, and thumbs off to Uncle Bill, Ms. Tawny, and their team for their foresight, and market savvy, and fortitude in moving Starkey into the twenty-first century market of consumer driven ear level electronics.