New Cochlear accessory lets implant wearers go under water, but it’s the company’s stock that takes a plunge


 This post was published June 3 and then revised and re-published June 4.

CENTENNIAL, CO—The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the Aqua Accessory, Cochlear Americas, the company that makes the device, announced on May 31. Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, Cochlear Americas’ Australian-based parent company, Cochlear, saw its stock plunge by a whopping 18% on June 3, following the release of a downbeat earnings forecast. Shares fell by $11.66 and closed at $52.88.

Among the problems facing the world’s largest manufacturer of cochlear implants is that sales in its biggest markets—the U.S. and Europe—have lagged, as prospective buyers hold off while waiting for its next generation Nucleus 6 products to receive regulatory approval.

Also curbing demand for Cochlear products from markets outside Australia is the strength of the Australian dollar. Worth less than 70 cents American in 2009, the Australian dollar’s value is now close to that of the U.S. dollar.

Cochlear expects net profit for the year ending June 30 to be in the range of $130-to-$135 million, far below analysts’ forecasts of $155 million.



Used with the Cochlear Nucleus 5 Sound Processor, the new Aqua Accessory is a custom cover with a double-zip lock seal designed to hold the processor and coil inside, and can be worn behind the ear in the normal position. It is designed for use in any water-based activity to a depth of 4 meters for up to an hour.

Chris Smith, president of Cochlear Americas, said that the combination of the Nucleus 5 processor and the protective cover, “allows recipients to hear in every environment, including swimming in the pool, which we know is a high priority for many.”Previously, people could not swim under water while using the Nucleus 5. Now, says Cochlear, the world’s largest manufacturer of cochlear implants, people can swim worry-free in chlorinated pools or in either fresh or salty  bodies of water.

According to Cochlear Americas, the Aqua Accessory is the only ear-level accessory for waterproof hearing with cochlear implants. The product can be ordered from the Cochlear Americas store in packs of 5, 15, and 30.