Over the past three years, Hearing News Watch has published several articles on the rise of so-called hearable devices. Combining features of a conventional hearing aid with those of consumer audio products, it seems the hearable category is about to take a big step forward. Fast Company magazine recently reported that Apple, Google and Amazon all have high priority healthcare projects involving hearable technology in their research and development pipeline. According to the August 2 Fast Company story, all three tech behemoths hired high ranking engineering staff from Doppler Labs, soon after the company folded last year.
It is believed the companies are ramping up their R&D efforts in this area because personal voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana, have suddenly emerged as the biggest interface revolution since the iPhone popularized the touchscreen, and there is a rising demand to use these products in a handsfree manner without the hindrance of touching a computer. Thus, cool-looking, wireless, multi-tasking earbuds could become the next “big thing.” But if you’re thinking you’ll be able to go out and purchase one of these awesome new products in the next year or so, think again.
Given all the pitfalls associated with hearing aids, such as short battery life, earwax and occlusion, it could be a few years before the next generation of multi-tasking hearables are upon us. Make no mistake, though, these high quality hybrid products will be eventually on shelves – both real and virtual – before too long.
To read the entire Fast Company article and how the Doppler Lab legacy lives on in Silicon Valley go here.
Transforming Prescription-only to OTC
Most probably never thought there was a parallel between amplification devices and fertility testing. If you’re looking for ways to raise awareness of a condition or improve consumer demand, there are indeed distinct parallels. In a July 25th Med City News article, Nancy Williams provides keen insights on the hurdles associated with a company taking a product once sold only by prescription through the professional channel to bring the product directly to consumers for purchase.
According to Williams:
“Despite measurable benefits from a category transforming from Rx to OTC, including an explosion in access, richer choices, and sometimes lower prices, new OTC categories often need sustained investment to create awareness and change behavior.”
She concludes her timely piece by asking a critical question, “Will the largest hearing aid companies invest in new market development?”
The entire article is a must-read and can be found here.